By Cameron Blair
Eastern’s baseball team saw their record in OVC play drop below .500 for the first time this season after a weekend sweep at the hands of Jacksonville State, but won their three non-conference games to finish the week at 3-3.Eastern 9, Miami (OH) 7
Eastern put six runs on the board in the seventh inning against Miami to increase their lead to 9-0 Tuesday at Turkey Hughes Field.
Those six runs proved to be much more than insurance runs. The Redhawks scored six runs in the ninth inning, but the Colonels were able to hold on for the 9-7 victory.
The Colonels improved to 21-21-1 on the season with the win while Miami fell to 15-28.
Junior right fielder Dylan McMaine led the Colonels’ offensive outburst with two hits, two runs and three RBIs. McMaine ended his day at the plate with a two-run homer to right field in Eastern’s six-run seventh inning.
Junior center fielder Aaron Barrows provided the spark the Colonel offense needed. Barrows reached base four times, stole three bases and scored four of the team’s nine runs.
“Aaron’s a guy that battles up there and always has good at bats,” Eastern Head Coach Elvis Dominguez said. “He just goes up there and makes things happen.”
After being shut out by junior right-hander Eric Hash (2-3) through seven innings, Miami scored seven runs against reliever David Owens in 1.2 innings. Freshman reliever Paul Duncan came in and recorded the final out on a ground ball to second base to preserve the victory.
Eastern 3, Jacksonville State 5
Despite a late comeback, the Colonels (21-21-1, 8-10) dropped their third straight game to Jacksonville State (23-18, 14-4 OVC) by a score of 5-3 in Jacksonville Sunday.
Eastern went into the eighth inning of Sunday’s game trailing 5-0 after being shut out by Jacksonville State’s Jordan Beistline through seven innings.
However, a two-run single from sophomore first baseman Anthony Ottrando cut Eastern’s deficit to two at 5-3. After McMaine drew a walk to load the bases with only one out, freshman third baseman Jayson Langfells grounded into an inning ending double play to end the threat.
Dominguez was pleased with his team’s effort throughout the weekend despite the losses.
“I wasn’t down at all after that series,” Dominguez said. “They went out there and played hard all weekend.”
Junior Chris Grider (3-3) picked up the loss for the Colonels.
Eastern 5, Jacksonville State 7
After overcoming an early four-run deficit, the Colonels were unable to maintain their lead as Jacksonville State defeated Eastern 7-5 in the second game of Saturday’s doubleheader.
The Gamecocks jumped out to an early lead after scoring four runs off of Eastern senior McKenzie Willoughby in the second inning. Willoughby settled down after that, allowing only one more run before leaving the game after the fifth inning.
The Colonels used a two-out rally in the third inning to take the lead. Five consecutive Eastern batters reached base after the first two hitters were retired. Senior catcher Joe Oliver’s two-run double capped off the big inning and gave Eastern a 5-4 lead.
However, Jacksonville State tied the game at 5-5 in the third inning and added two runs in the sixth to give them the victory.
Dominguez praised Jacksonville State’s ability to win close games.
“They’re a club that doesn’t beat themselves,” Dominguez said. “Our league is really balanced and they’ve managed to win a lot of close games this season.”
Freshman Patrick Cooper (1-4) picked up the loss for the Colonels.
Eastern 2, Jacksonville State 3
Despite another solid outing from junior lefty Christian Friedrich and a ninth inning comeback, Eastern fell to Jacksonville State 3-2 in the first game of Saturday’s doubleheader.
Jacksonville State struck first in the pitcher’s duel in the first inning when second baseman Bert Smith scored on a wild pitch.
However, the Colonels answered in the top of the second inning after taking advantage of shaky Gamecock defense. Junior second baseman Tyler Rehmel scored on a Jacksonville State throwing error to tie the game at one.
After Jacksonville State took a 2-1 lead in the sixth, the Gamecocks held the Colonels scoreless until the ninth. With two outs and two strikes, junior Matt Davis singled to right field. Freshman Jayson Langfells followed with a single to right field, bringing Davis around to score the tying run.
However, Jacksonville State successfully executed a squeeze bunt attempt in the tenth inning to give them the victory.
“We played them pitch by pitch and this was just a case of two good teams going up against one another,” Dominguez said. “We did what we needed to do to give us a chance to win, but we couldn’t get that clutch hit we needed.”
Eastern 14, Kentucky State 0; Eastern 15, Kentucky State 2
The Colonels scored a combined 29 runs and swept a doubleheader against Kentucky State April 23 at Turkey Hughes Field.
Langfells and Ottrando combined for ten RBIs during the two games and Langfells also became the only player in Eastern history to hit a homerun in three straight games.
The Colonels will be back in action this weekend for a three-game series against Samford. First pitch for Saturday’s doubleheader is scheduled for 1 p.m.