Roberts breaks UE’s single season home run record, in loss at UIC

Purple Aces baseball
Purple Aces baseball(WFIE)
Published: May. 19, 2023 at 11:07 PM CDT
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EVANSVILLE, Ind. (WFIE) - Ed Kothera’s single-season home run record has stood at the University of Evansville since the conclusion of the 1987 season. On Friday night, UE graduate outfielder Eric Roberts broke the single-season record with his 21st home run of the year in the top of the fourth inning at UIC. Unfortunately, it was not enough to help Evansville top the Flames, as UIC evened the weekend series with the Purple Aces with a 7-3 win at Curtis Granderson Stadium in Chicago, Illinois.

“Tomorrow sets up to be a really big game for our club,” said UE head coach Wes Carroll. “We have to be ready to go from the start.

“I would like to congratulate Eric Roberts on breaking the UE single-season home run record tonight. He has had such an incredible season, and we’re not done yet!”

After UIC built a seven-run lead with a two-run double in the first inning and a pair of home runs in the third, Roberts made UE history by belting a solo home run to the opposite field for his 21st home run of the year. It snapped a tie with Kothera, who crushed 20 home runs during the 1987 season for UE. Roberts tied the single-season record last night at UIC, and Friday’s fourth-inning bomb was his fourth home run of the week.

Sophomore catcher Evan Waggoner and fifth-year first baseman Chase Hug both crushed long solo home runs to right field in the fifth and sixth innings, respectively, but the Purple Aces could not muster any more offense. UE’s best chance came in the eighth inning, when Waggoner and sophomore outfielder Ty Rumsey both reached base with two outs, but UIC reliever Zak Gould got Roberts to fly out to center field to end the threat.

Gould then worked around a lead-off double by UE junior shortstop Simon Scherry to finish a scoreless three-inning stint to earn a save and make a winner out of UIC starter Kade Lancour (6-3). The UIC duo combined for eight strikeouts and got the Purple Aces to fly out 15 times.

Waggoner and Scherry had two hits apiece to lead UE. Roberts and Hug got the other two hits for UE with their solo home runs. Outfielder Rayth Petersen went 2-for-3 with a two-run home run, and first baseman Breck Nowik added a three-run home run for UIC. All seven runs for UIC came against starter Donovan Schultz (5-5), with relievers Max Hansmann and John MacCauley combining to hold UIC to just one hit over four scoreless innings of relief.

With the victory, UIC improves to 27-22 and 13-13 in the MVC, while Evansville falls to 32-22 and 14-12 in the Valley. The two teams will conclude the three-game series on Saturday afternoon at 1 p.m. The winner of Saturday’s game will earn the #4 seed in next week’s Missouri Valley Conference Tournament and earn a first-day bye. The loser will have to start tournament play on Tuesday. Saturday’s rubber match can be seen live on ESPN3 and heard live in Evansville on 107.1 FM-WJPS and the Old National Bank/Purple Aces Sports Network from Learfield.