FULTON, Mo. – Eureka closer Mason Diederich (Washington, Ill./Washington) was the unlikely offensive hero of a 6-5 comeback win at Westminster on Thursday.
The sophomore, who entered the day with less than 20 at-bats on the season, belted a game-tying grand slam in the sixth inning. Then, after EC earned the lead in the seventh, got the save on the mound.
Westminster responded by surging to a 7-0 shutout victory in Game 2 to preserve a St. Louis Intercollegiate Athletic Conference split at Saucier Field.
The Game 1 victory for EC snapped a five-game conference losing streak. The Red Devils remain third behind Westminster in the SLIAC West Division league standings with a 6-12 record in league play and a 12-19 mark overall. The Blue Jays are now 9-7 in league play and 13-12 overall.
Game 1: Eureka 6, Westminster 5
Before Diederich sealed it in the bottom of the seventh, J.D. Theile (Bloomington, Ill./Normal Community) put in six innings of work on the mound, allowing five runs on seven hits and two walks while striking out two. The Red Devils' freshman ace improved to 4-3 on the season.
The Blue Jays put the pressure on the visitors early by plating three runs on three hits in the first inning. They tallied a fourth on a balk in the third and a fifth on a solo shot by Ryan Clavin in the fifth.
The Red Devils' comeback started with a leadoff single by Mike Redmond (Chicago, Ill./St. Rita). Drew Thoele (Teutopolis, Ill./Teutopolis) then reached on a fielder's choice, Dean Moir (Coal City, Ill./Coal City) walked and Joe Quinn (Coal City, Ill./Coal City) knocked an RBI single left-center to put EC on the board.
After Jake Carter (Carlinville, Ill./Carlinville) reached on an error to load the bases, Diederich stepped up to the plate and officially put the Red Devils in the game with his first career home run.
In the seventh, Sean Green (Peoria, Ill./Limestone) and Redmond both singled, and with one out, Moir produced the go-ahead sac fly RBI.
Diederich came on after Westminster's leadoff single to the bottom half. He retired the first two batters, then put the winning run on base with a walk.
But the sophomore got the next batter to fly out, ultimately leaving both runners stranded and the Red Devils victorious.
Diederich and Redmond both went 2-for-3 at the plate. The Red Devils finished with eight hits to the Blue Jays' seven.
Game 2: Westminster 7, Eureka 0
Westminster pitcher Mason Kirkweg limited Eureka to six hits and one walk while striking out three in 8 2/3 innings for the Blue Jays. He didn't give up single extra-base hit.
Moir was the only Red Devil to tally more than one hit, going 2-for-4. Green, Redmond, Thoele and Jeremy Sinople (Oak Lawn, Ill./St. Rita) each had base hit.
The Blue Jays tallied four runs on seven hits in 4 1/3 innings off Quinn and added three more on four hits off Kyle Cashdollar (Morton, Ill./Morton) en route to the win.
Up Next: Weather permitting, the Red Devils are scheduled to host Greenville on Saturday in another SLIAC doubleheader at Henry Sand Field. First pitch is at 1 p.m.