For the second time this season against Southern Illinois University, the Racers were tied late in the game before the leadoff hitter delivered a triple.
On Tuesday, junior outfielder Taylor Mathews was the batter to reach third in the bottom of the ninth, just like sophomore catcher Tyler Lawrence did in the 11th inning on Feb. 25 in Carbondale, Ill., against the Salukis. And just like that game five weeks ago, freshman third basemen Kipp Moore drove Lawrence in to win the game. This time it was with a single through the left side of the infield. On Feb. 25 it was with a sacrifice fly.
These late game heroics came right after the Racers blew a six-run lead over the eighth and ninth innings.
“We kept competing and the team has done a good job of that,” said Head Coach Kevin Moulder. “Things haven’t gone perfectly for us this season; we faced some adversity and for the most part the guys have kept chipping away at it and it showed last night.”
Originally scheduled to start at 4 p.m., the game Tuesday was delayed because the umpires arrived late. Once they got underway around 4:45 p.m., the Racers took an early advantage with a two-run single in the second inning.
Over the next three innings, the Racers added four more runs to take a 6-0 lead entering the sixth inning.
Sophomore pitcher John Lollar started the game for the Racers and shut out SIU for the first five innings. Lollar struggled in the sixth, giving up four straight singles and two runs before Moulder brought in freshman Tyler Anderson, who kept SIU from scoring again.
The Racers responded in the bottom of the sixth with two runs of their own and the lead was back to six, 8-2.
SIU scored two in the eighth. Then with junior Cody Maerz pitching for the Racers in the ninth, the Salukis scored four runs on five hits.
“Everyone threw well out of the bullpen except for Maerz, who had a rough one,” Moulder said. “He’s been arguably our best guy leading into last night.”
But Maerz picked up the win after Lawrence and Moore teamed up with their walk-off routine.
“We could’ve put our head in the sand but instead we came out and answered right back in the bottom of the ninth,” Moulder said.
The win was the fourth in a row for the Racers following a series with Eastern Illinois in Charleston, Ill.
The team came home from the OVC series with a sweep against the Panthers, winning all three games.
The first game of that series was historical as the Racers tied a record for home runs in a game. In an 18-7 win, the Racers hit six homeruns and all six were by different players.
“We aren’t a team that relies heavily on the long ball, but we have a number of guys that can hit the ball out of the park,” Moulder said. “We had a great approach at the plate that day and it happened, so it was fun to be a part of.”
Sunday, junior pitcher Brad Boegel picked up his first win of the season 8-4 after throwing a complete game. Boegel allowed eight hits, four runs, two of them earned and struck out four over those nine innings.
The series finished Sunday afternoon with the Racers winning 8-2. Freshman Brandon Hicks picked up the win after pitching five innings and not allowing any runs.
The Racers return to action at 6 p.m. Friday at Reagan Field against OVC opponent Jacksonville State for the second game of a three game series. They will play 1 p.m. Saturday to finish the series.
Story by Blake Bernier, Staff writer