By Todd Purvis/Sports editor
After double-dipping Tennessee Tech in Saturday’s double-header, the Colonel baseball team failed to remain perfect in conference play as they fell to the Golden Eagles by a score of 9-7. Eastern’s loss snapped their eight-game winning streak and marked the first time this season the Colonels have fallen at home.”In Sunday’s game, all of the things that we have done to be successful to that point were the same things that we didn’t do,” head coach Elvis Dominguez said. “Our starting pitching struggled and we didn’t play solid defense.”
Eastern got on the board early when senior left fielder Stephen Carter ripped a single up the middle to start the bottom half of the first inning.
Later in the inning, with Carter on first, senior third baseman Neil Sellers gave Eastern the 2-0 lead by delivering his fourth homerun of the season over the left-center field wall.
In the top of the second Tennessee Tech evened the score at two after they put together three extra-base hits. Brent Bilodeau led off the inning with a double down the right field line, then he came in to score off a Josh Eye triple that narrowed the Eastern lead to 2-1.
Another base hit by second baseman Kenny Stiles to the right side tied the game at two.
The Colonels regained the lead in the bottom of the third when sophomore right fielder Chris O’Dell ripped a double to right field, then advanced to third on a wild pitch. After junior shortstop Adam Visnic reached first off a walk, senior catcher Chris Clark came to the plate with Colonel runners on the corners. Clark belted his second homer of the season and gave Eastern the 5-2 lead.
“We had the opportunity to put the game away early, but we didn’t,” Dominguez said.
The Eagles picked up three hits in the top of the fourth to cut the Eastern lead to 5-3.
In the top of the fifth inning, Tennessee Tech took a 6-5 lead of the game when they plated three runs on three hits.
Eastern tied the game at six in the bottom of the sixth when Carter and pinch-hitter Brett Bolger picked up back-to-back singles to keep the inning alive. Sellers then doubled to left-center, bringing Carter in to score.
The Eagles responded with three more runs in the next two innings, to extend their lead to 9-6.
The Colonels only score once more as Clark led off the bottom of the ninth with a double off the top of the left-field wall. He eventually came in to score off of an RBI by senior second baseman Jonathan Woodard to narrow the Eagle lead to 9-7.
“We weren’t able to get any clutch hits, and when we hit the ball hard, we hit it right at someone or they made a great play on us,” Dominguez said.
Eastern’s record fell to 17-3 and 2-1 in the conference as Tennessee Tech’s record boosted to 3-10 and 1-2 in the conference.
“Our guys were upset, they were hanging their heads, but we’re still 17-3, it’s not like we’re playing .500 ball,” Dominguez said. “Hopefully our guys will learn from the loss and it will pay dividends down the road.”
The Colonels were led by Carter, who went three for four with two runs scored.
Sellers went three for five on the day with a homer, a run scored and three RBI’s. Sellers was named OVC Player of the Week for his performance this weekend.
“Neil hit the ball great. He had an unbelievable weekend,” Dominguez said.
Clark was two for five in the contest with a homer, a double, two runs scored and three RBI’s. Clark also threw out a pair of runners that attempted to steal in the eighth inning.
Colt Ashman picked up the win for Tennessee Tech as he pitched five innings, gave up six hits and allowed two earned runs.
Colonel pitcher Nick Adams took the loss as he gave up two runs on one hit in two innings of work.
“The biggest thing a program does is not so much how they handle adversity, but more importantly how they handle success,” Dominguez said. “As soon as you start believing that you are good you forget how to work, and if you start doing that, you are no longer very good and I hope that doesn’t happen to us.”
The day before Eastern’s eight-game winning streak came to an end, the Colonels took two games from Tennessee Tech in their conference opener.
Eastern opened Saturday’s play by shutting out the Eagles by a score of 6-0 in the first round of the double-header. The Colonels recorded their first shutout of the season in the contest.
Bolger led the Colonels as he went three for four with a RBI, while Carter was two for three with three runs scored.
Junior pitcher Scott Goetz picked up the win as he threw 7.2 innings of shutout work and fanned six Tech batters.
“Scott Goetz came out on Saturday and completely dominated the game,” Dominguez said.
In the second game of the day, Eastern jumped on Tech early as they went through two Eagle pitchers by scoring seven runs in the opening inning of play en route to a 11-3 victory.
Sellers led Eastern by going two for four with three RBI’s and two runs scored, including a three-run homer.
Stevenson and Visnic were also two for four with a double and a RBI.
“Bryan Stevenson and Adam Visnic both played solid for us this weekend,” Dominguez said.
Freshman pitcher Chris Grider picked up the win for the Colonels.
“Chris came out and didn’t really have his best stuff, but he competed and found a way to win,” Dominguez said.
The Colonels were scheduled to play the University of Kentucky yesterday, but the game was postponed due to inclement weather in the area. The game is scheduled to be made up May 18 at Cliff Hagan Stadium.
Eastern travels to UT-Martin this Saturday for a three-game against the Skyhawks.
“The only thing that I was disappointed from this weekend was our effort on Sunday,” Dominguez said. “Our guys know what it takes to win, and hopefully we can learn from the loss and get it done this weekend at UT Martin.”