The Southern Illinois University Edwarsdville baseball team clinched a spot in the 2015 Ohio Valley Conference tournament Sunday thanks to a 9-8 come-from-behind win over Austin Peay at Raymond C. Hand Park in Clarksville, Tenn.
The Cougars won two of three from the Governors and improved to 17-10 in the OVC. The 17 wins are the most for the Cougars since joining the conference. SIUE is in third place, just a game behind Morehead State for second place and one of two byes in the tournament. The Cougars are 18-26 overall.
Austin Peay fell to 24-25 overall and 15-15 in the OVC. The Governors currently are sixth in the OVC. The top six teams make up the field for the OVC tournament which takes place May 20-24 in Jackson, Tennessee.
The Cougars scored three two-out runs in the top of the ninth inning. SIUE had two hits in the inning and was helped by three Austin Peay errors.
Trailing 8-6 going into the inning, Dustin Woodcock drew a one-out walk. With two outs in the inning, Denton Reed reached on an error by the Govs' shortstop Clayton Smithson. Nick Lombardo followed with a single to center which brought in Woodcock. The ball got by the APSU centerfielder Chase Hamilton and went to the wall allowing Reed to score and Lombardo to get to third base. Smithson bobbled the relay throw from the outfield which allowed Lombardo to score, giving SIUE the 9-8 lead.
"It's a testament to our guys the way they fought and never gave up," SIUE Head Coach Tony Stoecklin said. "We didn't necessarily play our best baseball but we played a hard nine innings."
Lombardo finished the game 2 for 5 with two RBIs and three runs. Reed was 3 for 5 with the run scored.
SIUE got out to a 3-0 lead in the first inning. Lombardo led off with a single before APSU starter John Sparks walked the next three hitters. Alec Saikal was the third to walk, forcing in a run. Parker Guinn followed with a sacrifice fly to make it 2-0. Skyler Geissinger singled to put the Cougars up 3-0.
Keaton Wright made it 4-0 SIUE with a groundout in the second inning.
Austin Peay scored twice in the second inning and four times in the third inning to take a 6-4 lead and chase SIUE starter Ryan Daniels. Daniels allowed six runs, four earned on six hits. He walked five and struck out four.
Zach Malach and Brett Thomas combined to throw the final six innings. Malach allowed a run in 3 1/3 innings. He allowed four hits, struck out two, and did not walk a batter.