Aces Baseball Shuts Out Western Illinois

Aces Baseball Shuts Out Western Illinois

EVANSVILLE, IN (WFIE) - The University of Evansville baseball team employed sharp starting pitching, speed on the base paths and strong relief from the bullpen to end a five game losing streak, shutting out Western Illinois 4-0 in the Purple Aces' home opener of the 2018 campaign at Braun Stadium, Friday afternoon.

"It's good to come out here in the opener at Braun and win", said University of Evansville Head Coach Wes Carroll. "Obviously, getting back in the win column, something we're not used to over the last week, it's good for our ball club to feel good about themselves." 

Junior right hander Austin Allinger (1-0) set the pace for UE early, striking out eight Leatherneck (0-7) batters while tossing 6 1/3 innings of one-hit ball, allowing just three walks, earning his first victory of the season.

"I thought the first two innings he really struggled with fastball command, and then he was able to find it", said Carroll. "He was able to locate glove side, get in on a couple of their leftys and really just kind of set them up. I was really proud of his overall effort, to be able to find his fastball. He had a high pitch count through the first two innings, and we were concerned about going to the bullpen early."  

Allinger got immediate run support, as well. In the opening frame, sophomore outfielder Kenton Crews led off the inning with a single to center. A failed pick-off attempt allowed Crews to advance to second, which he followed up by stealing third. Then, senior catcher Andrew Tanous delivered a clutch one-out single up the middle, driving in Crews for the ice breaker.

That's the way it would stay until the fifth inning, when Evansville (2-5) staged a two out rally. It began with sophomore infielder Troy Beilsmith getting hit by a pitch. Kenton Crews then hit a well-placed grounder which bounced off the third base umpire, which turned into an infield single.  With two aboard, freshman infielder Sam Troyer stroked an infield single to shortstop, loading up the bases. From there, Western Illinois starting pitcher Ian Koch (0-3) uncorked a wild pitch, allowing Beilsmith to race home with the insurance tally, making it 2-0 Aces.

"You've got two northern teams in a chilly kind of game, the ball wasn't going to carry too much", said Carroll. "We knew it was going to come down to who got the big two-out RBI knocks, and that's what we did tonight." 

Allinger finally ran into trouble in the seventh inning, as a walk and a throwing error gave the Leathernecks two baserunners with one out. Allinger gave way to senior reliever Ryan Brady, who came out of the bullpen to put out the fire, ending the threat by striking out Bailey Montgomery.

In the bottom of the inning, the Aces added to their pad, as Kenton Crews continued his strong day at the plate, ripping a double to center, which drove in pinch runner Nate Reeder from first, giving Evansville a 3-0 lead. Troyer would deliver again later in the inning, sending a double down the left field line, bringing in Crews, pushing the lead to 4-0.

Ryan Brady would give way to senior reliever Jimmy Ward in the final frame. Ward closed out the game with a 1-2-3 inning, which included a pair of strikeouts.

"Both of them (Brady and Ward) came out pounding the zone", said Carroll. "I think that's so crucial and key, especially on a chilly night, where the ball wasn't going to carry to far." 

Game two of the series is back at Braun Stadium Saturday afternoon at 2 p.m., with junior left hander Alex Weigand taking the hill of the Aces. Western Illinois counters with senior righty Ryan Dunne.

Courtesy:  UE Sports Information Dept.  Copyright 2018, WFIE, All rights reserved.