By Casey Tolliver
Eastern continued their struggles in weekday games after losing both games of a doubleheader Tuesday to Marshall by scores of 9-3 and 4-2 at Turkey Hughes Field in Richmond.The two losses dropped Eastern’s record to below .500 for only the second time this season with a record of 15-16-1. The Colonels still have a 7-5 mark in OVC games, however.
Marshall 9-Eastern 3
A five-run fifth inning and solid pitching throughout the game propelled the Thundering Herd to a 9-3 victory over Eastern in the first game of Tuesday’s doubleheader.
Eastern Head Coach Elvis Dominguez was disappointed with Eastern’s performance after the game.
“This is the first game we’ve played here where we’ve had decent weather and we come out and don’t even compete,” Dominguez said. “That really bothers me.”
The game looked to be a pitchers’ duel early. Eastern trailed 1-0 in the bottom of the fourth inning before they finally broke through against Marshall relief pitcher Brian Moore. Moore walked senior Clint Seymour with the bases loaded to force in the tying run.
Senior shortstop Tyler Barnett followed with a sacrifice fly to give the Colonels a 2-1 lead.
However, the lead would not last long.
After junior right-hander Chris Grider cruised through the first four innings, some wildness and poor defense from the Colonels allowed the flood gates to open. Grider walked two batters and Eastern made two errors to allow Marshall to retake the lead.
Reliever Michael Mulholland also had control problems after he replaced Grider. The senior lefty walked both batters he faced. The Thundering Herd took a 6-2 lead before they were retired in the fifth.
“We just didn’t throw strikes,” Dominguez said. “It’s tough to win when you don’t command the strike zone. We were pitching from behind all day.”
Marshall added another run in the sixth and tacked on two more in the seventh to put the game out of reach.
Grider picked up the loss for the Colonels, leaving him with a 2-2 record on the season.
Seymour led the way offensively for Eastern, reaching base three times, driving in one run and scoring another.
Marshall 4-Eastern 2
Eastern had several chances late in the game, but could not push any runs across as they fell to Marshall 4-2 in game two of Tuesday’s doubleheader.
Trailing by two in the seventh and final inning, junior right fielder Dylan McMaine doubled to lead off. Following a strikeout by freshman third baseman Jayson Langfells, junior second baseman Tyler Rehmel walked to put runners at first and second with one out.
However, the Colonels were not able to advance either of the runners. Senior Clint Seymour struck out looking and shortstop Tyler Barnett lined out to center to end the game.
“We put the tying run at second base with no one out and we can’t even move him up one base,” Dominguez said. “We just didn’t compete. That’s all I can say.”
As with the first game of the doubleheader, the contest was close early. Clutch hitting from McMaine helped the Colonels tie the game in the third inning.
Trailing 2-1 with two outs and a runner in scoring position, McMaine laced an RBI single to center field. The junior’s left hit tied the score at 2-2.
Eastern starting pitcher Eric Hash gave up only two runs through his first four innings of work, but struggled in the fifth. Marshall greeted the junior right-hander with three straight singles to take a 3-2 lead before Hash was lifted for junior right-hander Chris Hord.
Hord retired the next three batters, but the Thundering Herd extended their lead to 4-2 on a sacrifice fly. The junior right-hander held Marshall scoreless for the remainder of the game.
“Chris pitched the best out of any of the guys we had out there today,” Dominguez said. “He’s also a guy that prepares well and cares about his performance.”
Eastern also had a chance to chip away at Marshall’s lead in the bottom of the fifth. After the first two batters struck out, the next three Colonel hitters walked to load the bases for Barnett.
However, Barnett grounded out to the shortstop to end Eastern’s threat.
The two losses Tuesday left the Colonels with a 1-3 record in their last three weekday games.
“I’m tired of trying to figure it out,” Dominguez said of the Colonels’ weekday struggles. “We came out here today with no life, no passion and no energy.”
Eastern will be back in action at Turkey Hughes Field for a three-game weekend series against Murray State. The teams will play a doubleheader Saturday, with the first pitch for game one scheduled for 1 p.m.
Eastern 6-UT Martin 3
Another solid start from All-American Christian Friedrich and a grand slam from Anthony Ottrando powered Eastern to a 6-3 victory over UT-Martin (4-26, 1-9 OVC) in the first game of a doubleheader Saturday.
The Colonels wasted no time in giving Friedrich some early breathing room.
Junior center fielder Matt Davis singled with two on and two out to load the bases for Ottrando. The sophomore UK transfer then lined a pitch over the right field fence to give Eastern a 4-0 lead.
Ottrando had 11 RBIs in the four games Eastern played and was named Co-OVC Player of the Week.
“I was just seeing the ball well all week and getting good pitches to hit,” Ottrando said. “Plus it’s easy to look good when your teammates get on base in front of you.”
The four-run lead proved more than enough for Friedrich. The left-hander pitched six innings while allowing only one run and striking out six on his way to his fourth win of the season.
Sophomore right-hander Chris Hord pitched the final three innings for the Colonels.
Dominguez said he was pleased with the effort of Freidrich and Hord.
“Anytime Christian is on the mound we know we have a good chance to win,” Dominguez said. “And our bullpen has been solid the last couple weeks. It was great to go out there and play such a complete game.”
Eastern 6, UT-Martin 0
Senior McKenzie Willoughby picked up his first win of the season as Eastern swept the Saturday doubleheader by defeating UT-Martin 6-0.
Ottrando gave the Colonels an early lead for the second straight game. Freshman left fielder Ryan Faidley and Matt Davis started the third inning with singles before Ottrando hit his second home run in as many games to give the Colonels a 3-0 lead.
“Anthony is a hitter that doesn’t strike out and he always puts the ball in play,” Dominguez said.
Willoughby, who began the season as Eastern’s closer, made the most of his opportunity to start against UT-Martin. The senior right-hander pitched five scoreless innings to pick up the win.
Dominguez said Willoughby’s versatility makes him very valuable to the team.
“He has been our number one starter in the past and he can really pitch in any situation,” Dominguez said. “He can start, close or be a set-up man.”
Owens, senior lefty Michael Mulholland and sophomore Jim Clancy combined to pitch scoreless sixth and seventh innings to finish the game.
UT-Martin 6-Eastern 3
Eastern missed an opportunity to pick up their first sweep of a conference opponent this season after losing to UT-Martin 6-3 on Sunday.
The Colonels fell behind early for the first time in the series after the Skyhawks pushed two runs across in the bottom of the third inning and added another in the fifth off of Easte
rn freshman Patrick Cooper to take a 3-0 lead.
“Patrick just needs to throw more quality pitches and keep them down in the strike zone,” Dominguez said. “He made a few mistakes that cost us some runs.”
The Colonels fought back to tie the game in the top of the sixth. After an RBI double from Rehmel, freshman Jayson Langfells ripped a two-run single up the middle to tie the game at 3-3.
However, UT-Martin immediately answered in their half of the sixth with the go-ahead run and added two insurance runs in the seventh to seal the victory.
“We played well overall,” Dominguez said. “But I am disappointed we didn’t finish them off.”
The loss left the Colonels with an overall record of 15-14-1 and a 7-5 mark in OVC play.
Eastern will be back in action when they take on Murray State in a three-game weekend series at Turkey Hughes Field. First pitch Saturday is scheduled for 1 p.m.
Eastern 9-Western 5
Sophomore first baseman Anthony Ottrando and senior shortstop Tyler Barnett combined to drive in six runs as Eastern defeated the Hilltoppers (18-13) April 10 in Bowling Green.
Eastern Head Coach Elvis Dominguez downplayed the rivalry aspect of the game.
“I’m just glad we came out and beat a very good Western team,” Dominguez said. “I’ll leave the Battle of the Bluegrass thing to you guys.”
Eastern broke a 2-2 tie in the fifth inning to take control. Junior second baseman Tyler Rehmel led the inning off with his third home run of the season to put the Colonels ahead, 3-2.
The Colonels used patience and execution to add to their lead after Rehmel’s home run. Freshman third baseman Jayson Langfells walked and junior center fielder Matt Davis reached on a bunt single to put runners at first and second. Following a sacrifice bunt by senior catcher Joe Oliver, senior shortstop Tyler Barnett cleared the bases with a triple.
Eastern added one more run in the inning to take a 6-2 lead.
“We were very opportunistic as far as taking advantage of their mistakes was concerned,” Dominguez said. “We were able to get key hits and put some runs on the board to give our pitchers some breathing room.”
Junior right-hander David Owens picked up his second victory of the season after pitching a scoreless inning in relief.