By Matthew Crump
The Colonels’ baseball team swept Southeastern Illinois University Edwardsville in last weekend’s three-game series, 3-0.
The Colonels (12-15, 4-2 OVC) defeated the Cougars (13-14, 2-4 OVC) in the first game, 8-1, the second, 8-2 and the third , 15-11.
The last game gave Eastern a five-game winning streak.
“Any time you sweep, that’s a good thing,” Head Coach Jason Stein said. “Sweeping is hard to do, and I’m pretty excited over that. Puts us in a better position. We’re ahead of some teams even though it’s early. It put us in a position to jump a few teams.”
Senior pitcher Matt Harris was the star of the first game. He pitched all nine innings and only allowed one run on four hits with five strike outs. On the batting side, senior A.J. Jamison, junior Austin Grisham and sophomore Bryan Soloman led the team going 2-for-4, with Jamison hitting a homerun in the second inning.
The game started slowly, with no runs or hits for either side in the first inning but opened in the second. Two solo homeruns in the bottom of the second from Soloman and Jamison pushed Eastern ahead.
The Colonels put the game out of reach during the bottom of the seventh.
A single from Grisham drove Sean Hagen in and put Richie Rodriguez on third base. Grisham then put himself into scoring position by stealing second. A sacrifice fly from Jacob Daniel scored Rodriguez and a single from Soloman scored Grisham, putting the Colonels ahead, 8-1.
The game ended with a Cougar getting tagged out and Harris striking out the last two batters.
Eastern repeated the first game’s results in the second game, beating the Cougars 8-2.
Just like the first game, the first inning went scoreless. Eastern, once again pulled ahead in the second, but this time the Colonels tripled the second inning score of the first game. S
Grisham smashed the ball to the right field wall, earning him a triple and scoring Rodriguez and Hagen. A wild pitch allowed Grisham to score.
Next, Daniel was thrown out at first, ending the inning with the Colonels in the lead 6-0. The Cougars attempted a comeback in the fourth, but they only managed to score one run.
Eastern scored again in the bottom of the fourth when Grisham scored Rodriguez off of a single. The Cougars scored another single run in the sixth inning, but they couldn’t catch up.
Eastern scored a final time in the bottom of the eighth. Michael Garcia was walked and advanced to second base on a wild pitch.
No runs were scored by the Cougars in the ninth, ensuring another win for the Colonels.
The third game was a high scoring one for both teams, but Eastern emerged victorious 15-11.
Eastern scored five of the seven homeruns in the game. Garcia and Jamison led the batting lineup with three hits each and Grisham and Daniel led with RBI with four each.
“We just had to out-slug them, and we did,” Stein said. “We showed a lot of power.”
The Cougars drew first blood by scoring two runs in the top of the second. Eastern responded in the bottom of the second, scoring three runs of their own.
The Colonels shut down the Cougars in the top of the third and scored two more runs in the bottom of the inning. Rodriguez and Grisham both hit solo home runs, making the score 5-2. The Cougars rallied to tie the game in the fifth, scoring three runs and even managed to pass Eastern in the top of the sixth inning when a player hit a two-run homerun.
Eastern responded in the bottom of the sixth by scoring seven runs, which gave Eastern a lead powerful enough to win. Southeastern Illinois attempted a four-run rally in the bottom of the eighth but were unable to pass the Colonels, and Eastern finished the sweep 15-11.
“Friday and Saturday we got unbelievable starting pitching,” Stein said. “The first two games were all about pitching and defense and that last game was about timely hitting, and getting two out hits.”
Grisham was named the Adidas Ohio Valley Conference Co-Baseball Player of the Week thanks to his performance against the Cougars.
The Colonels return to the diamond Friday, April 6 for a road game against Southeast Missouri State University in Cape Girardeau, Mo.