EVANSVILLE, IN (WFIE) - It was another day of strong starting pitching, solid bullpen work and timely hitting for the University of Evansville baseball team, as the Purple Aces took their second straight shutout over Western Illinois, 8-0, at Charles Braun Stadium Saturday afternoon.
"I'm really excited about the way our guys played today", said University of Evansville head coach Wes Carroll. "I think our pitcher did an outstanding job. Obviously, to get back to back shutouts for our pitching program is great to see."
The game opened as a pitchers duel between UE junior left hander Alex Weigand and the Leathernecks senior righty Ryan Dunne. The two went back and forth through the early frames holding the opposing batting order in check, with the game remaining a scoreless deadlock through the first five innings.
Finally, in the sixth the Aces broke through in a big way, as junior Sam Troyer tomahawked a 2-run home run off Dunne, with Troy Beilsmith sitting on second. The roundtripper, the first of Troyer's Evansville career made it 2-0 Aces.
"Sam Troyer, getting back in to the lineup, I thought he had some quality trips to the plate yesterday", said Carroll 'And then sitting in our two hole, for him to be able to go up top on a breaking ball and just give us that shot of adrenaline was key."
Weigand cruised into the seventh frame, where he gave up a lead-off single to catcher C.J. Schaeffer, which ended the southpaw's day on the hill. For the day, Weigand (1-1) tossed six innings of shutout ball, scattering four hits and one walk, while striking out six, earning his first victory of the 2018 campaign.
"He (Weigand) was able to command his off-speed", said Carroll. "I thought his breaking ball was excellent, both sides of the plate, too. He was able to throw it back foot to rightys, and backdoor to rightys. I thought he was just excellent, keeping them off-balance, because his fastball, I didn't think his speed level was there, but he was getting a little bit of cut and sink. He was able to just able to make the pitch in even counts to really flip it to his favor."
Carroll then turned to Aces sophomore closer Adam Lukas, who came in and put out the fire, striking out the first batters he faced. Lukas closed out the inning with a fly out to center to end the threat.
Evansville erupted in the bottom of the seventh, which began with the Aces loading up the bases on Dunne, then Dunne plunking freshman outfielder Evan Aders, bringing in freshman Tanner Craig with an insurance tally and chasing Dunne from the game.
"We beat a heck of a pitcher tonight", said Carroll. "I thought Dunne was a Valley Friday night kind of arm performance from him tonight through five innings. Their pitcher did a great job on the hill against our hitters."
Sam Cottingham-Beard came out of the bullpen for Western Illinois, but his luck was no better. After issuing a bases-loaded walk to Troy Beilsmith to make it 4-0, sophomore outfielder Kenton Crews tagged Beard for a two-run double to left, pushing the lead to six runs. Senior catcher Andrew Tanous then chased Beard from the game slugging a two-run double to center, making it 8-0 Evansville.
Senior Dalton Horstmeier came out of right field to pitch the 8th and 9th innings, preserving the shutout. Evansville improved to 3-5 on the season, Western Illinois dropped to 0-8.
The Aces will have the brooms out Sunday for the series finale, as they go for the series sweep of the Leathernecks. First pitch from Braun Stadium is scheduled for 1 p.m.