University of Southern Indiana's student publication | USI | student newspaper

The Shield

University of Southern Indiana's student publication | USI | student newspaper

The Shield

University of Southern Indiana's student publication | USI | student newspaper

The Shield

Analysis: USI wins dramatic home opener after awe-shocking 1st inning

The baseball team celebrate its victory against Eastern Michigan University Friday at the USI Baseball Field. (Photo by Will Kessinger)

The University of Southern Indiana baseball team debuted at home against Eastern Michigan University at 4 p.m. Friday at the USI Baseball field. The playing conditions were near-perfect, 56 degrees Fahrenheit, but slightly windy.

Going into the game, USI was 0-4, having lost against Lamar University, University of North Alabama and University of South Alabama twice. Their last game was an 11-0 shutout, a result they certainly wanted to improve upon. For Eastern Michigan, they entered the game 1-3 after facing Belmont in a four-game series.

USI started Gavin Morris, junior pitcher, who entered today’s matchup with a 4.15 earned run average in 4.1 innings pitched. On the mound for Eastern Michigan was Bobby Jones, senior pitcher, with a 3.00 ERA in six innings of work.

The baseball team huddles before the game against Eastern Michigan University Friday at the USI Baseball Field. (Image by Will Kessinger)

USI’s opening day lineup featured the following players:

  • Ren Tachioka, senior outfielder
  • Caleb Niehaus, sophomore infielder
  • Tucker Ebest, senior infielder
  • Ricardo Van Grieken, junior infielder
  • Lane Crowden, junior infielder
  • Cameron Boyd, freshman outfielder
  • Thomas Emerich, junior infielder
  • Logan Mock, junior catcher
  • Terrick Thompson-Allen, junior outfielder.

To open the game, USI was able to retire the first batter, Glenn Miller, graduate infielder, via a groundout to shortstop. However, Eastern Michigan began to hit off of Morris, which became an issue when Cooper Vance, sophomore infielder, advanced to third on an infield error, bringing in two runners. He was then brought in by a single from Giano Zuccaro, junior outfielder.

The next at-bat, Kyle Schroedle, graduate outfielder, homered to left center field. It was at this point that Morris’ day was done, a tough shelling endured. In his place came Gavin Seebold, junior pitcher, who was able to get out of the inning without conceding another run. USI attempted to get runners in scoring position, loading the bases in the bottom of the first after Tachioka reached first, beating out a grounder and two walks from Niehus and Ebest. However, they left three runners on base.

Ren Tachioka, senior outfielder, stands at the plate during the second inning of the game against Eastern Michigan University Friday at the USI Baseball Field. (Photo by Will Kessinger)

For the next three innings, both pitchers were able to settle in, as both Jones and Seebold got comfortable on the mound. However, in the bottom of the fourth, USI was able to grasp onto life after Niehaus singled to left field, and then stole second base. After a fielder’s choice where Van Grieken reached first base and Niehaus advanced to third, a wild pitch allowed Niehaus to score while Van Grieken advanced to second. With a significant amount of momentum in USI’s favor, Boyd went yard, adding two more runs batted in, bringing the Eagles within one run. After the homer, Jones was pulled for Andrew Dukesherer, junior pitcher.

In the top of the sixth, Seebold walked Lucas Johnson, junior catcher, which prompted a pitching change. Clayton Weisheit, freshman pitcher, was brought in. Following a series of pickoff moves, Weisheit was called for a balk, and Johnson advanced to second base. After a ground out by Miller, Johnson advanced to third on a wild pitch and scored after a fielder’s choice, bringing the lead to 6-4 in favor of Eastern Michigan.

However, USI was not giving up, as Thompson-Allen, following a hit by pitch, advanced to third after an Ethan Rotchild, freshman right fielder, single. Following a pitching change, which saw Aaron Pirkle, sophomore pitcher, enter the game, USI scored another run after an Ebest groundout. However, Rothschild advanced to third on a failed pickoff attempt and then scored on a wild pitch, tying the game 6-6. Something magical was happening.

Cameron Boyd, freshman outfielder, celebrates his first homerun, alongside teammates Lane Crowden, junior infielder, and Thomas Emerich, junior infielder, during the game against Eastern Michigan University Friday at the USI Baseball Field. (Photo by Will Kessinger)

However, in the top of the seventh, Eastern Michigan struck back as Zuccaro singled, prompting a pitching change. USI brought in Mason Sweeney, junior pitcher. Sweeney got a second out via a Logan Milene, junior designated hitter, strikeout. As fate would have it, Johnson, up again, was able to reach on a fielder’s choice, bringing in Zuccaro. Following this, Miller singled to left, bringing another run and the lead back to Eastern Michigan, 8-6.

In the bottom of the seventh, following a Boyd flyout and Mock strikeout, Thompson-Allen doubled, advancing Emerich to third, who singled earlier. Soon after, Rothschild singled up the middle, bringing in Thompson-Allen and Emeric, tying the game at 8-8.

Following a single by Niehaus and another pitching change for Eastern Michigan, Ebest hit a single to second base, allowing Rothschild to score, as he beat the throw, giving USI the lead for the first time all game. 8-9 heading into the 8th.

To open the eighth, Gage Smith, junior pitcher, was brought in, who got the first batter out through a lineout to center field. However, Vance walked, which prompted another pitching change as Will Kiesel was brought in. Kiesel gave up a hit on a fielder’s choice, but the runner was safe at second due to an error. Schroedle, who hit a home run earlier, had to be pitched around and was walked. With the game on the line, bases loaded, and one out, Kiesel was able to strike out Milene and got Darren Kraft, senior infielder, to fly out, ending the inning.

Will Kiesel, sophomore pitcher, stands on the mound and faces an Eastern Michigan University batter Friday at the USI Baseball Field. (Photo by Will Kessinger)

In USI’s last chance to get insurance runs, they succeeded. Following a Thompson-Allen single, which allowed Emerich to advance to second after being hit by a pitch. Soon after, Rothschild was also hit by a pitch, loading the bases. The very next at-bat, Niehaus was able to single to center, bringing in two insurance runs.

As the top of the ninth rolled around, Eastern Michigan seemed to have lost hope as Johnson flew to center. Miller, however, was able to single to left field, but the following two batters, Logan Hugo, junior outfielder, and Cory Taylor, senior infielder, were retired.

Final Score: USI 11, EMU 8

What we witnessed was an all-time comeback or an all-time collapse, depending on the perspective. To put hyperboles aside, that was an impressive comeback after the first inning. Despite getting shelled to begin the game, the team stayed together and fought hard. The hitting was on full display, as 11 runs were brought in on 13 hits. Pitching-wise, if you take away the first inning, the bullpen performed well. Seebold gave four quality innings, allowing USI to make a comeback, while Sweeney got the win, and Kiesel closed out the game with a save.