Panthers lose 3-straight games to Razorbacks

Bob Reynolds, Sports Editor

The Eastern baseball team was swept by the University of Arkansas in a 3-game series over the past two days.

The Panthers and Razorbacks were scheduled to play Saturday to Monday, but winter weather pushed the series to start on Monday.

Eastern lost 4-1 in Game 1, 8-1 in Game 2, and 7-0 in the final game of the series.

Red-shirt junior pitcher Matt Wivinis pitched in the first game and let up one earned run in four innings of work but took the loss after the Panthers could not muster anything on offense.

Arkansas sophomore pitcher Dominic Taccolini allowed just one run on two hits in six innings pitched. He struck out for Eastern batters as well. Senior pitcher Jacob Stone closed out the game for the Razorbacks.

Eastern’s lone run came in the sixth inning on a sacrifice fly by junior infielder Mitch Gasbarro scoring freshman Joseph Duncan.

The Panthers opened the scoring in Game 2 on a single to center field by sophomore outfielder Frankie Perrone in the 4th inning, scoring freshman Hunter Morris to take a 1-0 lead.

Arkansas tied the game on a home run to left field by junior infielder Bobby Wernes. The Razorbacks would add three more runs in the fifth inning to take a 4-1 lead.

Four more runs would be added by Arkansas in the sixth inning after junior infielder Mark Bernal hit a grand slam to give the Razorbacks an 8-1 lead.

Panther senior pitcher Garrison Stenger pitched 4 1/3 innings and allowed four runs, walked five batters and struck out four. He took the loss and is now 0-2 on the season.

Eastern senior infielder Dane Sauer said it was great to see the pitchers pitch well in the first two games, especially Wivinis.

“Wiv pitched great for us,” he said. “We need that. With him getting healthy and going out and doing pretty well in Game 1, that’s what we need. Stenger pitched well at the beginning too. We just couldn’t get any offense going for them.”

The Panthers were shutout in Game 3 and only had two hits.

Arkansas got on the board in the first inning with a single to left field by sophomore Andrew Benintendi.

Arkansas would tack on two more runs in the next two innings to take a 3-0 lead.

Benintendi homered to right-center to give the Razorbacks a 6-0 lead in the bottom of the fifth.

The Razorbacks added another run in the fifth after junior infielder Max Hogan scored on a wild pitch by Eastern pitcher Ben Hughes.

Despite the three losses, Sauer said the three games were better than the outing two weeks ago against Georgia.

“We did play better baseball,” he said. “But, we still didn’t play the best we could. It’s tough to get in a rhythm when you haven’t played in two weeks because of weather.”

Sauer added this week the Panthers will have to stick to their approach and their roles in order to get back on track after losing six-straight games.

“Although we didn’t score a lot of runs, we did get in several situations to score a lot, which is good,” he said. “Then it comes down to capitalizing on our opportunities. We’re close. It’ll come.”

The Panthers are supposed to play Austin Peay in a home series starting Friday, but there is a good chance the game will be canceled due to the winter weather in Charleston.

Bob Reynolds can be reached at 581-2812 or [email protected].