EDWARDSVILLE — Devin Caldwell and Skyler Geissinger each homered to account for all of Southern Illinois University Edwardsville's runs Sunday but Eastern Illinois edged the Cougars 5-4 in the finale of a three-game Ohio Valley Conference series at Simmons Baseball Complex.
SIUE dropped to 4-9 overall and 2-1 in the OVC. Eastern Illinois improved to 3-12 and 1-2 in the OVC.
Caldwell was 1 for 3 with a solo home run in the first inning to put SIUE up 1-0. Geissinger was 1 for 3 with a three-run home run in the eighth inning that pulled the Cougars within one at 5-4.
In between the two Cougar long balls, the Panthers scored five times on six hits.
Caldwell's home run came with two outs in the first inning against EIU starter Christian Slazinik. Slazinik proceeded to walk the bases loaded but the Cougars failed to score again. In the bottom of the inning, Cougar starter Jake Stauffenberg loaded the bases with two walks and a hit batter with one out. Panther third baseman Tyler Schweigert came to the plate with two outs and hit a pop up into right field. The ball fell between SIUE centerfielder Austin Verschoore and Caldwell, who was playing right. All three runs scored to put Eastern Illinois up 3-1.
"I think the game was decided in the first inning; all the way around," SIUE coach Tony Stoecklin said. "We had bases loaded and failed to capitalize. We misplayed a ball in the outfield. We walked a couple of guys and put our defense asleep."
Slazinik lasted just 1 1/3 innings before being lifter for reliever Jaden Widdersheim. Widdersheim (1-0) threw 5 2/3 scoreless innings allowing four hits and racking up eight strikeouts.
Eastern Illinois scored single runs in the third and fifth innings to lead 5-1 before Geissinger's home run in the eighth inning.
"We had a five or six innings of poor at-bats," Stoecklin said. "We decided to lock in late and try to put something together and it was too late."
Geissinger finished the series 7 for 14 (.500) with two homers and eight RBIs.
"Skyler was great at the plate and he played solid defense," Stoecklin said. "The at-bats that he is taking right now are quality. He's hitting the ball with some thunder. He's hitting the ball in the gaps and hitting them over the fence."
Stauffenberg (0-2) pitched five innings allowing all five runs on six hits. He walked three and struck out three. Jarrett Bednar relieved Stauffenberg in the seventh inning and threw three perfect innings striking out two Panther hitters.
"(Jarrett) did a great job," Stoecklin said. "It looks like he has turned the corner. He's been working hard to get himself going. He was a real bright spot today."
Stoecklin said that his team can't afford to take a day off in the OVC.
"Every time they don't come out to play and play a hard nine innings we will lose," he said. "Anytime you don't want to focus the other team will capitalize and you will lose in this league every single time."
SIUE will travel to Indiana State for a 2 p.m. game Wednesday against the Sycamores before returning home to continue OVC play with Jacksonville State next weekend.