By Todd Purvis/Sports editor
The Colonels took a break in conference action when they hit the road and destroyed Atlantic 10 opponent Xavier Musketeers by a score of 19-4.”We hit the ball extremely hard and that’s the one thing that I was really pleased about,” coach Elvis Dominguez said. “We got a chance to play everyone and we got quality at-bats the whole game.”
Eastern got going early in the game when they posted six runs in the top half of the inning, sparked by Derrick Bussell’s second homer of the season.
“We came out and jumped on them early and got a couple of things to go our way, and before you know it, it was 6-0,” Dominguez said.
The Colonels extended their lead to 7-0 in the top of the third when Jonathan Woodard picked up a RBI single.
Eastern added to its lead in the top of the fourth inning when Neil Sellers delivered a three-run blast over the left field wall to put Eastern ahead 10-0.
Xavier got on the board in the fifth inning with a three-run homer from Brett Smith that cut the Colonel lead to seven.
Eastern answered by posting four more runs in the top of the sixth. Keith Bolger picked up a RBI base hit that scored Sellers, and Woodard added with a three-run bomb to left field giving Eastern the 14-3 lead.
Xavier added another run in the top of the sixth cutting the lead to 14-4.
Eastern then responded by putting five more runs on the board in the last three innings of play.
Chris O’Dell drove in Shawn Flora in the seventh to make the score 15-4.
The Colonels put four more runs on the board in the top of the eighth where they were led by a three-run shot from Flora to wrap up the scoring on the day for both teams.
Junior right-handed hurler Brian Engle pitched six innings to pick up the win for Eastern and keeping his record perfect at 4-0. Engle allowed five hits and four runs in six innings of work while striking out four.
Casey Howard finished the game with three innings of relief work in which he allowed only one hit and one walk.
Eastern was led by four homeruns in the game.
“We don’t have homerun swings, they were just balls that we hit really, really hard in the gap and we just happened to hit them just right,” Dominguez said. “Our philosophy is that we think double, and if homeruns happen, great.”
Sellers was three for six in the game, with three runs scored and three RBI’s.
Woodard was three for three with five RBI’s and two runs scored. While Bussell was one for four with two runs and two RBI’s.
“It’s not the same guy that hits for us every week; it seems like every game there is always somebody else that picks up the flack,” Dominguez said. “Our guys expect to get a hit every single time they step to the plate, and they get upset if they don’t.”
After picking up wins in the first two games of the doubleheader on Saturday, the Colonel baseball team looked to sweep the series against Jacksonville State on Sunday, but the Gamecock squad had something else in mind.
“We’ve done a good job of minimizing our losing streaks and maximizing our winning streaks,” Dominguez said. “We were just due a beating.”
Eastern won the first game by a score of 8-5 then went on to pick up a 10-1 victory to end the first day of play. On the final day of the series, Jacksonville State bounced back and ripped the Colonels 19-5.
The Colonels looked as if they would pick up where they left off on Saturday when Neil Sellers picked up a RBI double to give Eastern the 1-0 lead in the top of the first inning.
In the bottom of the first the home team responded by posting five runs on the board to give Jacksonville State the early 5-1.
The Gamecocks were sparked by a two-run shot from Robb Goodson with only one out in the inning.
A Gamecock walk and a hit batsmen later, the Eastern defense looked as if it would settle down and get out of the inning when Derrick Bussell hit cut-off man Nick Barte who relayed the throw to the plate to stop a Jacksonville State runner from scoring from second base. Jake Ball stepped to the plate with two outs and did the rest of the damage for JSU when he delivered with a three-run shot to put the Colonels behind by a 5-1 deficit.
Jacksonville State got their bats going again in the bottom of the second inning after freshman pitcher McKenzie Willoughby came in to relieve Barte. Willoughby issued a walk then gave up a double to put another run on the board. Willoughby then issued two more walks to load the bases.
Dann Civello came through for the Gamecocks with a single up the middle to give JSU their second run of the inning, extending the lead to 7-1.
Nick Adams got the call from the bullpen for the Colonels, but the Jacksonville State bats didn’t let up as Adams was welcomed with a grand slam to right-center by Scott Smith. That pushed the Gamecock lead to 11-1.
Jacksonville State plated seven more runs in the bottom of the seventh led by Smith’s second grand slam of the game.
Eastern rallied back in the top of the eighth inning as Sellers led off with a single, and pinch hitter Greg Estep followed with a double to put runners in scoring position for the Colonels. Adam Visnic singled to left-center to bring both runners to the plate and brought the score to 18-3. Bussell followed with a two-run double to right-center to narrow the JSU lead to 18-5, but that proved to be as close as the Colonels would get.
The Gamecocks added one more run in the bottom of the eighth inning bringing the final score to 19-5.
“Everyone hit the ball really well for us this weekend,” Dominguez said.
Barte took the loss for Eastern to bring his record to 3-1 on the season, while JSU pitcher Bobby Wynns picked up the win to bring his record to 4-4 on the season.
Although the Colonels fell in the final game of the series to the Gamecocks, they were able to take both games of Saturday’s doubleheader.
The Eastern squad picked up the win in game one when Will Whisenant came through in the top of the ninth inning with a three-run shot to break the 5-5 tie and give Eastern the 8-5 victory.
In the second game of the double-header, the Colonels posted 10 runs en route to a 10-1 victory in the night cap of the doubleheader.
“Overall it was a great weekend,” Dominguez said. “Especially when you can go on the road and take two of three from the team that was picked to win the conference in the preseason.”