Tigers Drop Season Opener to SIUE 4-2
Feb. 17, 2012
MEMPHIS, Tenn. - SIU-Edwardsville scored three runs in the third inning and went on to top the University of Memphis baseball team 4-2 at FedExPark on Friday.
Devin Caldwell laced the first pitch he saw down the left field line to start the second inning for SIUE. After two line-outs to third, Tigers starter Clayton Gant appeared to be out of the jam. But, Brett Keeler drove in Caldwell with a bloop single to right field to put the Cougars ahead 1-0.
The Tigers knotted the score in the bottom of the frame on a Colton Simbeck double to right-center. Simbeck, one of two freshmen in the opening day lineup, registered the RBI as T.J. Rich scored on the play. Rich drew a one-out walk and advanced to third on a throwing error by the Cougars pitcher on the pickoff attempt.
SIUE regained the lead in the third inning as Caldwell drove in two with a double down the left-field line. A lead-off double by Nick Lombardo hurt Gant as a walk to James Vazquez placed runners on first and second with no outs. Two fly outs followed, but a balk advanced runners to second and third for Caldwell's two-run hit. Following a second walk in the inning, a double steal advanced runners to second and third and a passed ball allowed an additional run to score to give SIUE at 4-1 lead.
Zach Willis led off the bottom of the fifth with a double down the right field line, setting up the Tigers with a scoring opportunity. Ethan Gross moved Willis to third with a well-executed bunt down the third-base line. Cougars' pitcher Travis Felax worked out of the jam with a strikeout and pop-out in foul territory to keep SIUE in the lead, 4-1.
Adam McClain provided a spark in the bottom of the seventh as he drove in Tucker Tubbs with a double to right-center. Tubbs pinch-hit to start the inning and drew a walk and later advanced to second on a wild pitch. The Tigers couldn't produce more runs in the inning as a groundout and flyout ended the threat. McClain was stranded on third and became the fourth runner stranded in scoring position on the game.
Gant finished the evening allowing four runs, three earned, on seven hits over six innings of work. He struck out one and walked two in the losing effort. Tyler Farley pitched 3 innings in relief, striking out four batters and allowing only one hit.
Felax earned the win for SIUE, pitching five innings on the evening and allowing one run on four hits. He struck out five batters and walked four. Dustin Quattrocchi pitched the last 2.2 innings and earned the save. Quattrocchi held the Tigers at bay, striking out three and allowing no hits.
The U of M falls to 37-28 in season openers dating back to the 1948 season and 4-4 under head coach Daron Schoenrock. In home openers, the Tigers fall to 26-13 since the 1974 campaign and drop to 4-4 under Schoenrock. With the win, SIUE evens the series between the two squads at 2-2.
Player of the Game--Adam McClain
Pitcher of the Game--Tyler Farley
Memphis and SIU-Edwardsville square off in game two of the three-game series on Saturday at 10:30 a.m. Saturday's game time reflects the game time change due to inclement weather.