USI Baseball splits Friday doubleheader with Tennessee Tech

Published: May. 19, 2023 at 11:03 PM CDT
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EVANSVILLE, Ind. (WFIE) - University of Southern Indiana Baseball split a doubleheader with Tennessee Tech University Friday afternoon in Cookeville, Tennessee. Game one went to the Screaming Eagles, 8-7, while the Golden Eagles won the nightcap, 11-7. 

USI watched its record go 16-37 overall and 7-15 in the OVC, while TTU is 19-31, 10-13 OVC. With the split, the Screaming Eagles are still in the hunt for a spot OVC Championship which is slated for May 24-27 at Mt. Dew Park in Marion, Illinois. 

The USI Eagles need a win in the 2023 season finale or a loss by Lindenwood University tonight or Saturday to clinch a spot in the league’s post-season tournament. Lindenwood leads Southern Illinois University Edwardsville, 16-11, at press time Friday. 

Game One:

USI junior right fielder Ren Tachioka (Japan) posted four hits, including a two-run home run, and junior left-handed pitcher Blake Ciuffetelli (Newburgh, Indiana) pitched five strong innings to lead the Screaming Eagles to an 8-7 victory in the opening game of the double-header. The victory snapped USI’s nine-game losing streak and kept the Screaming Eagles in the hunt for an OVC Championship berth. 

USI scored five unanswered runs to take a 5-1 lead after TTU took a 1-0 lead with a tally in the opening frame. Freshman third baseman Caleb Niehaus (Newburgh, Indiana) put USI in the lead for good with a two-run homer in the top of the second. The home run to put the USI Eagles up, 2-1, was Niehaus’ third of the season.   

Tachioka doubled USI’s run total in the top of the third when he gave USI a 4-1 advantage on a two-run blast, his second home run of the season. Senior centerfielder Evan Kahre (Evansville, Indiana) put USI up four for the first time in the contest when he doubled in Niehaus with the fifth run the contest and a 5-1 lead after three-and-a-half frames.   

The Golden Eagles tried to catch the Screaming Eagles over the next four innings, beginning in the bottom of the fourth when they pushed a pair of runners across the plate for a 5-3 USI advantage. The USI Eagles re-extended the lead to four, 7-3, with a pair of tallies of its own in the top of the fifth. 

Junior designated hitter Parker Stroh (Grand Forks, North Dakota) doubled in the sixth run of the game with one out before Tachioka scored on a RBI-ground out by Niehaus. USI would hold the 7-3 lead until the bottom of the sixth when TTU closed to within one, 7-6. 

Tachioka finished the game four-for-five with a home run, two RBIs, and two runs scored, while Niehaus was two-for-five with a home run, two runs scored, and three RBIs. 

The USI Eagles picked up the eventual game-winning run in the top of the eighth when junior pinch hitter Gavin McLarty (Buckner, Kentucky) crushed the ball over the right field fence for his first home run of the season and an 8-6 lead. 

USI held off the Golden Eagles in the bottom of the eighth as the lead shrank to 8-7 before junior right-hander Carter Stamm came on to get the Screaming Eagles out of a bases-loaded jam by getting the final out of the frame. Stamm continued into the ninth and picked up his second save of the season by setting down three of four Golden Eagles in the final inning to preserve the 8-7 victory. 

Ciuffetelli (3-1) posted his third win of the season after going five-plus innings of work. He allowed five runs on eight hits and one walk, while striking out three. 

Game Two:

USI could not overcome 11 unanswered runs by TTU in the third and fourth and lost the nightcap, 11-7. 

The USI Eagles seemed to have command of the contest after sending 10 men to the plate and finishing their half of the third with a 5-0 lead. The five-run frame was highlighted by a two-run double by junior designated hitter Parker Stroh

The Golden Eagles responded by tying the score, 5-5, by matching USI’s five-run third before pulling out in front, 11-5, with a six-run fourth inning. USI got one of the runs back in the fifth when junior leftfielder Steven Molinet (Elberfeld, Indiana) scored on a error to make the score, 11-6. 

USI tried to rally in the final two innings but ran out of outs. The USI Eagles left runners at second and third in the eighth and left a pair of runners on in the ninth after pushing a run across for the 11-7 final. 

On the mound in game two, junior right-hander Matthew Moore (Newburgh, Indiana) took the loss in relief. Moore (1-1) allowed three runs on three hits and two walks, while striking one in one inning. 

USI junior right-hander Trent Robinson (Louisville, Kentucky) started and got the no-decision. Robinson allowed five runs on five hits and two walks in addition to striking out three in two innings. 

The Screaming Eagles did receive a great relief outing from freshman left-hander Will Kiesel (Wadesville, Indiana). Kiesel threw 4.1 scoreless innings, allowing four walks and striking out six. 

Up Next for the Eagles:  

The Screaming Eagles and the Golden Eagles conclude the three-game series and the 2023 regular season Saturday with a NOON first pitch. The first pitch has been moved up two hours due to weather Saturday.