Alec Saikl's one out, RBI single in the bottom of the 10th inning lifted Southern Illinois University Edwardsville to an 8-7 walk off win over Eastern Illinois on Saturday in the regular season finale at the Simmons Baseball Complex in Edwardsville.
SIUE finished the regular season 20-28 overall and 19-11 in the Ohio Valley Conference. The Cougars will be the No. 3 seed in next week's OVC Tournament, which begins Wednesday. Eastern Illinois fell to 13-36 overall and 9-21 in the OVC.
The No. 3 seed is the best for SIUE since joining the OVC. The Cougars' 19 wins are the most OVC wins in program history.
The Cougars trailed 7-6 going into the ninth and tied the game with two outs in the inning to force extra innings.
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"There's no quit," SIUE coach Tony Stoecklin said. "You could see that their minds were made up that they were going to find a way to win."
Skyler Geissinger singled with two outs in the bottom of the ninth inning against EIU closer Chase Thurston. Colin Book then tied the game with a double off the base of the left field wall to drive home Geissinger from first.
Nick Lombardo walked with one out in the bottom of the 10th. Lombardo stole second base and Chase Green walked. Both runners advanced on a wild pitch before Saikal lined a 2-2 pitch into right field to win it for SIUE.
"The way we took at-bats there down the stretch; we were extremely tough to get out," Stoecklin said. "We made the plays on defense and the bullpen really stepped up and shut them down in the seventh, eighth, ninth, and 10th inning. It was just a group of guys pulling together and finding a way to get it done."
Thurston took the loss for Eastern Illinois. He allowed two runs in 1 1/3 innings of relief. He walked three and struck out one. He fell to 2-3.
Ryan Agnitsch improved to 3-3 with the win. Agnitsch pitched a scoreless 10th inning allowing two hits. Thomas worked 3 1/3 innings of scoreless relief for the Cougars, striking out one.
Colin led the way for the Cougars at the plate. Making just his 13th start of the season, Book was 3 for 4 with two doubles and four RBIs. He drove in the Cougars' first run with a single in the second inning. His fifth-inning double put SIUE in front 5-3.
"I'm proud of him because he's continued to work hard," Stoecklin said of Book. "I know he wants more playing time. The way to get more playing time is to do well when you get your opportunity and he's maintained that approach. He has continued to work hard and waited for his opportunity and today he seized it."
Caleb Howell finished 4 for 6 with an RBI and run to lead the Panthers. EIU outhit SIUE 17-16. The Panthers left 16 on base while SIUE stranded 13 runners.
The Cougars advance to their second consecutive OVC Championship. SIUE will face No. 6 seed Belmont on Wednesday night in Jackson, Tenn. First pitch is scheduled for 7 p.m.