By Keith Ritchie
Eastern won two out of three at Tennessee-Martin last weekend. The wins pushed Eastern’s conference record to 21-19 overall, and 8-7 in the OVC.Eastern lost the series opener, 19-8, after leading 7-1 in the second inning.
Martin answered by scoring 13-unanswered runs, including four in the second, fourth, sixth and eighth innings.
Eastern didn’t score again until the eighth inning, when senior first baseman Anthony Ottrando drove in two runs with a single to centerfield.
Sophomore right-hander Matt Harris (3-5) took the loss, giving up seven runs on six hits in three innings.
“Baseball is a mental game,” Jayson Langfels, the junior third baseman said. “We were real antsy waiting in the hotel room all day. We just really let it get away from us.”
Langfels provided a majority of Eastern’s production. After blasting a two-run home run over the right field fence in the first inning, Langfels hit a three-run shot over the left field fence in the second inning. Langfels went 3-for-4 on the day.
On Sunday, the Colonels rebounded by winning both games of the doubleheader by scores of 7-3 and 7-4.
Junior lefty Paul Duncan (4-2) got the win, going seven innings and giving up three runs on eleven hits and nine strikeouts.
“It was huge, bouncing back from the day before,” Duncan said. “I had a lot of confidence throughout the game. I worked myself into a lot of tough situations, but came out alive.”
Martin led 3-2 heading into the seventh inning, when Ottrando drove in two runs with a double to right field, reclaiming the Colonel lead.
The 4-3 lead didn’t allow Jason Stein, the Eastern head coach, to breathe any easier in the bottom of the seventh.
Martin had the bases loaded with one out, with Duncan showing signs of fatigue. Duncan forced Martin’s Brent Morris to pop out to second base, and then struck out the next batter to end the threat.
“He (Duncan) is the definition of a grinder,” Stein said. “He found a way to get it done. I wasn’t going to let him face another batter. That seventh inning was his biggest inning of the year.”
“When I faced that last batter, I took a deep breath,” Duncan said. “I had a lot of adrenaline pumping.”
The Eastern offense put up three more insurance runs for the bullpen, which didn’t allow a run.
The Colonels never trailed in the second game of the doubleheader.
The score was 5-2 in the top of the fourth inning, when the Colonels scored another two runs for more breathing room.
Sophomore shortstop Richie Rodriguez led off the inning with a triple to right field. Junior utility player Bryce Labhart followed with an RBI double. Ottrando drove in the second run of the inning with a single to right field.
Sophomore lefthander Greg Terry (3-2) picked up the win, giving up three runs on eight hits in four innings of work.
“This entire weekend was a grinder,” Stein said. “It was a grinder on the mound, at the plate and in the field.”
The Colonels host Tennessee Tech this weekend for a three-game set. First pitch is scheduled for Saturday at 1 p.m.