Baseball Championship: Evansville 11, Southern Illinois 5
No. 5 EVANSVILLE 11, No. 4 SOUTHERN ILLINOIS 5
UE (31-25); SIU (28-28)
WICHITA, Kan. - University of Evansville junior third baseman Cody Fick launched two home runs, junior outfielder Greg Wallace added two triples, and the duo combined to go 5-for-8 with eight RBI on Tuesday night at Eck Stadium in Wichita, Kansas, as the fifth-seeded Purple Aces powered past the fourth-seeded Southern Illinois Salukis, 11-5, in the first round of the 2010 State Farm Missouri Valley Conference Tournament.
The game began as a pitcher's duel, as UE senior right-hander Keegan Dennis and Southern Illinois senior starter Nathan Forer traded scoreless frames through the first four innings. Wallace and Fick then kick-started the UE offense in the fifth and gave the Purple Aces a lead they would never lose.
After junior designated hitter Shawn Kuester and senior outfielder Alex Acheson knocked back-to-back one-out singles to begin the fifth, Wallace came up two batters later and drilled a two-run triple to the right-center field gap to give UE a 2-0 lead. Fick quickly followed one pitch later, as he launched a two-run home run deep to left-center field to push the cushion to 4-0.
SIU would answer back with two runs in the sixth inning on a two-run single by catcher Brian Bajer to cut the UE lead in half, but the Purple Aces would get one of those runs back in the seventh inning on a sacrifice fly by Wallace to push the lead to 5-2. Another two-run Saluki rally in the bottom of the seventh inning would cut the lead to just one run, 5-4, but once again, UE would respond, and this time in a big way.
Sophomore infielder Trentt Copeland scored UE's first insurance run in the eighth inning thanks to some aggressive base-running. Copeland opened the frame with a hustle double to right-center field in which he stretched a single into a two-bagger. A sacrifice bunt would move Copeland to third base with one out, and on a ground ball to a drawn-in Blake Pinnon at second base, Copeland sprinted home without even a throw being made to give UE a 6-4 lead.
Evansville would then explode for five runs in the ninth inning to put the game out of reach, thanks to three home runs and Wallace's second triple of the game. Acheson opened UE's scoring with his first home run of the year to left field. Wallace would then rope an RBI triple down the right-field line to push the lead to 9-4. Fick and Copeland would then greet SIU reliever Bryant George with back-to-back home runs on back-to-back pitches to give UE an 11-4 lead.
Fick went 3-for-5 with his 18th and 19th home runs of the year and four RBI. Wallace, meanwhile, tied UE's single-game record for triples with two, as he went 2-for-4 with four RBI. Copeland and Acheson also had three hits each for UE. First baseman Chris Serritella led SIU with a 3-for-5 effort at the plate, while Bajer drove in a team-best two runs. Dennis (4-3) earned the victory by scattering two runs on three hits in 5.1 innings of work for UE.
With the victory, Evansville improves to 31-25 overall and remains in the winner's bracket of the conference tournament. SIU, meanwhile, falls to 28-28 overall with the loss. UE will now take on the winner of the Wichita State-Missouri State match-up on Wednesday night at 7:30 p.m.