Trailing 4-1 entering the bottom of the ninth, the University of Evansville baseball team mounted a four-run rally, delivering a 5-4 come-from-behind victory over NIU in the series opener on Friday evening at German American Bank Field at Charles H. Braun Stadium in Evansville.
"Great come from behind win for our guys. We needed a spark offensively and that will hopefully carry over," said Aces head baseball coach Wes Carroll. "Our offense runs through Tanner Craig so it was great to see him deliver. (Shane) Gray gave us a chance on Friday which is all you can ask. Very proud of the fight from our guys."
Both offenses got started in the third inning as the Huskies struck first with a run in the top half of the inning off a single by Jake Dunham. The Aces answered in the bottom of the frame as junior first baseman Tanner Craig dropped a double into deep left center that rolled to the wall and scored senior third baseman Craig Shepherd.
Brady Huebbe did the damage for NIU in the seventh and ninth innings, hitting a two-run shot to left field to give the Huskies the 3-1 lead and then adding to NIU's advantage with an RBI double.
Evansville brought the 7-8-9 batters to the plate in the bottom of the ninth trailing 4-1 as NIU brought in Brandon McPherson to the mound. Freshman second baseman Simon Scherry opened the half inning with a single to right field that got the Aces offense rolling. Following Scherry, redshirt senior Kenton Crews came in as a pinch hitter and was walker. With junior Robbie Wilkes pinch-hitting in the nine spot, a wild pitch aided the Evansville effort, moving Crews and Scherry into scoring position. Wilkes was able to deliver in his opportunity as he struck-out swinging, but reacted quickly as the wild pitch got away from the catcher, reaching first safely as Scherry scored to narrow the deficit to two runs.
After redshirt senior Troy Beilsmith struck out, Shepherd came to the plate and singled to right field, scoring Crews. With the tying run represented at second in freshman Max Malley, who pinch ran for Wilkes, and the winning run at first base in Shepherd, Craig came to the plate. Craig capitalized on the moment, smashing a double down the left field line that scored Malley easily. Shepherd followed closely behind the freshman, sliding in safe and beating the throw to deliver a 5-4 win for the Aces.
Craig led the way on the evening for Evansville, going two-for-four at the plate with a pair of doubles and three RBI, while also earning a walk. Also recording a pair of hits was Scherry, who also went two-for-four.
Junior Shane Gray pitched another impressive performance, lasting five innings, allowing just three hits and one earned run, while striking-out four. The win was credited to sophomore Eric Roberts, who pitched a pair of innings, allowing one run, and striking-out four batters.
Evansville and NIU continue their series on Saturday at 1 PM with their second contest at German American Bank Field at Charles H. Braun Stadium in Evansville.