The official grand opening of Earle Combs Stadium was capped off with a 7-6, 13-inning over Austin Peay State University on Friday night.
The win on Friday clinched a conference series win for the Colonels, making it only the fifth series win and the second conference series win this season.
Game one of the series was tight-knit, as Eastern jumped out to a 1-0 lead in the third inning. In the bottom of the fourth, an Austin Peay error would be the cause of a three-run rally, with the inning being capped off by an Alex Holderbach RBI single to right center field.
The Governors scored a run in three straight innings, with a home-run to left field in the eighth. The game would end up tied after nine innings, heading to extra innings. After two scoreless extra innings, catcher Logan Starnes singled down the third base line for a walk off Colonels win, 5-4.
Although the stadium has been host to more than 20 baseball games this season, the official grand opening took place during the second game of the series on April 14.
The new stadium was named in honor of Hall of Famer Earle B. Combs. In his first season as a member of the EKU baseball team, Combs hit at least one home run in every game he played and compiled a .596 batting average.
Combs played for the New York Yankees from 1924-35, compiling a lifetime batting average of .325. He was the leadoff hitter for the great “Murderer’s Row” Yankee teams, and was inducted into the Hall of Fame at Cooperstown, New York, on July 26, 1970. Combs also served as Chairman of EKU’s Board of Regents.
Over 60 members of the Combs family took to the field for the festivities. They were joined by EKU President Michael T. Benson, Athletics Director Steve Lochmuller and Head Coach Edwin Thompson.
Jim Codell and Jacob Reeves from Codell Construction, Paul Gannoe and Kelly Crocker from EKU Capital Construction, Paul Cable from the Kentucky Finance Department, and Tim Murphy and Tim Delling from the Murphy Group Project were also recognized.
Following the dedication the ceremonial first pitch was thrown out by Benson, and all three of Earle Combs’ grandsons: Earle Combs III, Craig Combs and Don Combs Jr.
“What an awesome crowd here for our grand opening,” Coach Edwin Thompson said.
The attendance for Friday’s game was the largest crowd the new stadium has seen. The official attendance was listed as 477.
“It was great to see such a good crowd come out for out game,” said Aaron Ochsenbein, redshirt sophomore pitcher. “I’m hoping we can drawl a crowd like that for all out games now.”
The third and final game of the series was strictly offense as both teams put up a combined 24 runs and 24 hits. Eastern struck first with two runs in the second inning, but after that, it was all Governors.
Austin Peay put all 14 of their runs in four straight innings, with Eastern giving up three home-runs to three different players, extended Austin Peay’s lead to 14-3.
EKU would try their best to rally in the final innings, putting up seven runs in three innings, but unfortunately could not complete the come back. The Colonels did come away with the series win, bringing their record to 21-15 overall.
The Colonels next home game is set for 6:30 pm, Tuesday, April 18