EDWARDSVILLE, Ill. – SIUE and Eastern Illinois combined for 29 runs and 35 hits Sunday, with the Panthers avoiding a series sweep with a 16-13 win over the Cougars in the final game of a three-game Ohio Valley Conference series at Simmons Baseball Complex.
SIUE dropped to 23-26 overall. EIU improved to 19-33. Both teams are 11-16 in OVC play. That mark is tied for eighth in the league. The top eight teams advance to the OVC Tournament.
"That was tournament type play; two teams battling it out for the last couple of spots in the tournament," SIUE Head Coach Sean Lyons said. "That was just a back and forth game with both teams throwing jabs at each other inning after inning."
The teams traded leads early in the game. The Panthers scored a run in the first, but SIUE answered with two in the bottom of the inning. When EIU scored six in the second, the Cougars responded with four of their own. EIU scored three times in the third and the Cougars answered with two in the bottom of the inning. Eastern Illinois scored two in the fourth to lead 12-8. SIUE tied the score with two runs in the fourth and two more in the fifth.
EIU took the lead for good with three runs in the seventh to go up 15-12. SIUE stranded four runners in the sixth and seventh innings and could not catch up.
Neither starting pitcher worked past the third inning. SIUE starter Danny Ehrsam allowed 10 runs in 2 2/3 innings. Devin Rose worked two innings for EIU. He allowed six runs.
"The wind was blowing out," Lyons said. "It was an offensive day for both teams. Mistakes that were up were going to hurt both teams."
SIUE reliever Mason McReaken worked 4 2/3 innings out of the bullpen. He allowed five runs on six hits. He struck out a career-high eight, but walked a career-high six. He feel to 2-4 with the loss.
EIU reliever Jake Harberer earned the win for the Panthers. He worked six innings, allowing seven runs on 11 hits to improve to 2-3.
"The two guys out of the pen really did a nice job in those middle innings," Lyon said. "After all the runs were scored in the first 5-6 innings and kudos to (Haberer) for doing a nice job keeping us in check once we got things tied."
Both team scored a run in the ninth for the 16-13 final.
On a warm, windy day, both teams connected for five home runs. The five SIUE home runs tied a Division I record.
Redshirt freshman Eric Giltz led the Cougars offense. He was 4 for 5 with his first career home run, a solo homer in the ninth, and three runs scored.
Wright was 3 for 6 with three RBIs. He now has 226 career hits to move into 10th place all-time at SIUE. His home run was the 26th of his career which is fourth-most at SIUE.
Weimer was 2 for 6 with two RBIs. Weimer's home run came in the fifth and was the 15th of the season for the sophomore, which ties SIUE's single-season home run record.
Goecks was 2 for 3 with two RBIs.
"A lot of different guys are contributing and allowing that offense to get going," Lyon said. "That's good to see. It's the right time of year for guys to get going."
Hunter Beetley and Andrew Curran each had four hits, including a home run for the Panthers. Jimmy Govern was 2 for 5 with two home runs for EIU.
SIUE finishes the regular season with a three-game series on the road at Jacksonville State next Thursday, Friday and Saturday.
"We think we're still in a position where we control our own destiny," Lyons added. "To be in the position where we are battling to get into postseason play is a positive. We have to play well. If you play well, you give yourself a chance to win and that's all we're asking for out of the guys."