University of Southern Indiana Baseball battled Lake Erie College to a doubleheader split Saturday afternoon at the USI Baseball Field. The Screaming Eagles dropped the opening game, 5-4, and rebounded to win the nightcap, 8-2.
USI ends the first weekend, 2-1, while Lake Erie begins the year 1-2.
USI allowed four runs in in the ninth and saw its ninth inning rally fall short as Lake Erie took the opener, 5-4.
The Eagles got on the board in the second when senior shortstop Kobe Stephens doubled in junior third baseman Michael Conner for the 1-0 lead. Junior designated hitter Aaron Euler extended the lead to 2-0 in the third with a solo blast over the right field fence for his first home run of the season.
After USI loaded the bases on three walks in the sixth, Conner drove in his first run as an Eagle with an infield single to the left side with two outs to push the lead to 3-0. Conner had a USI-best two RBIs in the opener.
The Storm thundered back in the ninth inning, plating five runners on five hits. Three of the five hits in the ninth were infield singles by Lake Erie.
USI tried to rally back in the bottom half of the frame, loading the bases with one out. Conner knocked in USI's fourth run of the game and his second RBI of the game to cut the lead to 5-4. The Eagles would leave the tying and lead runners on second and third as junior second baseman Ethan Hunter fouled out to end the game.
On the mound, sophomore right-hander Garrett Welch gave the Eagles six scoreless frames in earning a no-decision. Welch allowed six hits and struck out four in his first start of the season.
Freshman right-hander Tyler Wheeler and senior left-hander Paul Perez followed Welch to the mound, throwing a scoreless seventh and eighth. Senior right-hander Jacob Bowles (0-1) took the loss for USI, allowing the five runs in the ninth.
USI bounced back in the nightcap with an 8-2 victory to earn the doubleheader split.
For the second-straight game, the Eagles jumped out to a 3-0 lead, scoring a trio of runs in the opening frame. Sophomore rightfelder Austin Moody crossed the plate with USI's first run on an RBI-double by junior third baseman Michel Conner for the 1-0 lead.
Freshman first baseman Adam Wildeman capped off the first inning rally with a two-run single to give the Eagles a three-run cushion.
USI would seal the victory with two more runs in the sixth and three in the seventh. The sixth was highlighted by a RBI-single by sophomore catcher Lucas McNew, while the Eagles scored their three-runs in the seventh on a RBI-single by senior shortstop Kobe Stephens and a two-run single by Moody.
On the mound, freshman left-hander Blake Ciuffetelli picked up a win in his USI debut. Ciuffetelli (1-0) went six inning, allowing two runs on five hits and two walks, while striking out three.
Junior right-hander Brady Bowling and senior left-hander Paul Perez combined to close out the game on the mound. Bowling allowed a hit and struck out two in one inning, while Perez gave up a hit and struck out four in two innings.
Up Next for the Eagles:
Following the conclusion of the three-game series between the Eagles and the Storm, USI hit the road for the next seven games with visits to Trevecca Nazarene University March 5-6 and the University of Illinois Springfield March 12-14. The USI-Illinois Springfield series with the GLVC opener for 2021.
USI leads the all-time series with TNU, 4-3, following a three-game sweep of the Trojans last spring and leads the all-time meetings with Illinois Springfield, 22-11, after winning two of three from the Prairie Stars a year ago.