By Todd Purvis/Sports editor
The Colonel baseball team suffered its first sweep of the year over the weekend to the visiting Samford Bulldogs.”Samford had great pitching,” coach Elvis Dominguez said. “Samford is a team that is 3-1 against the SEC and was 1-11 in the OVC before our series; they are a mystery.”
Eastern dropped both games of Saturday’s doubleheader by a total of two runs before getting drilled by a score of 8-2 in Sunday’s series finale.
“What they did to our offense all weekend was unbelievable,” Dominguez said.
In the final game of the series Samford picked up the sweep led by two three-run shots in the seventh and eighth innings.
“We were bound to lose a few games in a row at some point this season,” Dominguez said. “I told our guys to not dwell on it; if we would have won one or two games this weekend nobody would be talking, but that’s just the way it works.”
The Bulldogs got on the board early when leadoff man Michael Collins opened the game with a solo homer to left-center. The second Bulldog hitter was beaned by Eric Anthrop’s pitch to put a runner on first. Matt Alling followed with a double to left-center that put runners on second and third. Eric Hollis gave Samford another run off of a sacrifice fly to give the Bulldogs a 2-0 lead.
The Colonels got on the board in the bottom of the fourth when Brett Bolger picked up a one-out single up the middle. Neil Sellers followed with a single through the left side before Chris O’Dell picked up a single of his own that brought Bolger in to score, cutting the Bulldog lead to 2-1.
Samford picked up a commanding lead in the top of the seventh inning as they boosted the score to 5-1. Richard Bishop led off the inning for the Bulldogs with a single to center field. Justin Worthington followed with a fielder’s choice then stole second base, putting another Samford runner in scoring position. Collins drew the one-out walk to put runners on first and second. Joe Denson stepped to the plate and put the game away with a three-run shot over the left-center field wall.
The eighth inning turned out to have the same results as the seventh, as Samford put three more runs on the board. After giving up back-to-back walks, Eastern went to the bullpen to bring Nick Adams to the mound, replacing Brandon Scott. Bishop then picked up Samford’s third homer of the game when he blasted a three-run shot to left field, giving Samford the 8-1 lead.
The Colonels rallied in the bottom of the ninth, but it proved to be too little too late. Bolger started the inning with a single then moved to second when O’Dell drew a one-out walk. Keith Bolger then delivered a pinch-hit single to right field to load the bases for Eastern. Jonathan Woodard picked up a RBI as he drew the two-out walk to bring Bolger across the plate to give the Colonels their final run of the game, bringing the final score to 8-2.
“Saturday we came out a little flat,” Dominguez said.
Bolger, who was two for four, led the Colonels with two runs scored.
O’Dell also picked up a pair of hits for Eastern as he was two for three with a RBI.
Eastern pitcher Eric Anthrop was stuck with his first loss of the season as he put in six innings of work, scattered five hits and gave up two runs. Anthrop struck out six.
Samford pitcher Stephen Artz picked up his third win of the season as he pitched 8.1 innings and gave up two runs on six hits. Artz picked up nine strikeouts in the game.
“Artz was throwing 92 to 94 the entire ballgame, and that’s ridiculous,” Dominguez said. “He just simply dominated and he didn’t miss many spots.”
Eastern lost both games of the doubleheader on Saturday by a total of two runs. In the first game of the series the Colonels fell by a score of 8-7, then they fell in the nightcap by a score of 2-1.
“The first game we basically gave away; we had a 6-2 lead going into the seventh, then we walked two guys, had a couple of balks called and gave up four runs, and that’s a ballgame in itself,” Dominguez said. “We didn’t really play well defensively.”
In the game, Eastern was led by Bolger who was four for five with three RBIs and one run scored.
“Brett Bolger had a real solid weekend for us,” Dominguez said.
Bryan Stevenson was two for three in the game with two RBIs.
In the second game of the doubleheader the Colonels fell in the pitcher’s duel by a score of 2-1.
The game was tied throughout the majority of the contest, but Samford was able to pick up the win in the top of the ninth when they put their second run on the board off of an RBI single.
Chris Grider picked up the loss for the Colonels as he scattered four hits and gave up two runs in six innings of work. Grider had nine strikeouts in the game.
“Chris Grider pitched an exceptional ballgame; there’s no way he should have lost the way he pitched,” Dominguez said.
Eastern hosted the Louisville Cardinals yesterday and will travel to Southeast Missouri this weekend.
“We just need to get refocused, and I think we’ll be ready to play,” Dominguez said. “We play 56 games a year, so you’re bound to hit a stretch where you struggle offensively and defensively.”