By Keith Ritchie
Eastern’s hot streak (that included winning seven out of its last eight games) came to an abrupt end in Morehead last weekend. The Eagles swept the Colonels in a three-game set. Scores of 20-8, 16-4 and 21-11 left many scratching their heads.The Eagles went into the series with a 19-17 record and were 2-4 in the OVC. What’s more, the Colonels had taken two out of three from the Eagles two years in a row.
The Colonels’ defense suffered its biggest collapse of the season. Eastern, which led the OVC in fielding percentage heading into the weekend, committed 14 errors in the three games, including nine in the series finale.
In the first game, the Colonels trailed 4-2 in the bottom of the third inning, when the Eagles scored five runs on five hits.
Morehead piled on another five runs in the fourth inning.
The score was 14-3 heading into the top of the seventh inning when Eastern’s offense made some noise of its own. The Colonels put up five runs, including sophomore designated hitter Jacob Daniels’ grand slam over the right field fence. Daniels went 2-for-3 with four RBI in the contest.
Morehead answered back with four runs in the bottom of the seventh, and two more in the eighth to stretch the lead to twelve.
Morehead’s Taylor Davis led the Eagles with nine RBI. Drew Lee went 4-for-4 with three home runs.
Junior right-hander Stephen Hefler received the loss, going 3.2 innings and giving up 11 earned runs on 15 hits.
Game two of Saturday’s doubleheader was no kinder for the Colonels. Morehead defeated Eastern, 16-4.
Junior lefty Paul Duncan (3-2) lasted 2.1 innings, giving up eight runs on 11 hits.
Senior first baseman Anthony Ottrando hit a two-run shot to center field in the top of the fifth, but by that time the 11-3 game was well out of reach. Ottrando led the Colonels offensively, going 2-4 with three RBI.
Ottrando stretched his hitting streak to seven games.
“It’s easy to hit between Langfels and Faidley,” Ottrando said. “With pitchers throwing around them, I get some good pitches to drive.”
Morehead put an exclamation point on the win by adding another four runs in the bottom half of the inning, and one more in the sixth.
Sunday’s nine-error effort was one of the most colossal defensive meltdowns in recent memory for the Colonels.
Sophomore lefty Greg Terry got the start for the Colonels, allowing 11 runs on nine hits in 2.2 innings. Only three runs were earned.
Morehead led 13-2 heading into the top of the fifth inning when the Colonels scored six runs. Ottrando drove in four of those with a grand slam over the right field fence. Ottrando once again led the Colonels offensively, going 3-for-5 with four RBI.
Ottrando was not satisfied with the performance.
“Nobody stepped up,” Ottrando said. “No one had a good weekend.”
Jason Stein, the Eastern head coach, was at a loss of words following the series.
“We need a solid week of preparation to get back on track,” the second-year coach said in a brief phone call.
The Colonels (18-18, 6-6 OVC) look to rebound this weekend with a three-game set at Tennessee-Martin.