Panthers open OVC play at Austin Peay

Bob Reynolds, Sports Editor

The Eastern baseball schedule has been changed for the third-straight week as it will now play in Clarksville, Tenn., starting Sunday and will finish Tuesday.

The Panthers were schedule to open conference play at Coaches Stadium, but the weather forced the teams to move the games to Austin Peay and Eastern will still be the home team on the scoreboard.

Eastern senior second baseman Dane Sauer said the switching of sites will only change things if they let it.

“We have to go in there not expecting to be handed anything,” he said. “They’re a good team, but we have to play our baseball and we will be fine.”

Sauer said it is good to know that there will be baseball played this weekend.

“It seems like early on, so far, this weather has just been a burden,” he said. “It is nice to know that we have games that are scheduled.”

The last two weeks the Panthers came into the week not knowing if they were going to have a game or not.

The Panthers are coming off a weekday series sweep at the hands of the University of Arkansas in which they lost 4-1, 7-0 and 8-1 in the three games.

Panther coach Jimmy Schmitz said his team has been progressively having better at bats.

“I think we hit some balls hard,” Schmitz said. “Guys are just a little late on the fastball. Hopefully we can get that corrected by the weekend.”

Eastern enters the weekend with a .144 team batting average.

The Panthers have left 34 runners on base in the first six games, and Sauer said to get over the hump, they have to capitalize on their opportunities.

“We have certainly had the opportunities and been in situations to get it going, we just haven’t capitalized yet,” he said. “It just takes one lucky hit or walk, or anything to turn it around.”

Austin Peay comes into the game with a 5-4 overall record after starting of its season with two-straight wins. They have lost the last 4-of-7 games. They are coming off a series loss to Western Michigan last weekend.

Sophomore infielder Ridge Smith leads the Governors with a .472 average through nine games. He has 17 hits including eight extra base hits and seven runs batted in this season.

Schmitz said the excitement should be there to get on the field since its the start of conference play.

“We wish we had four or five more games in,” he said. “We don’t. It is a new level when you are in conference play, everything matters. Seeing the guys play at just another level, is what I am looking for.”

Last weekend the Panthers allowed Arkansas runners to advance on the base paths too many times Schmitz said. He wants to cut those down this weekend.

“You should actually have no advances in a game,” he said. “We are going to walk people. We are probably going to make an error, but to allow that team to run, to allow that team to take extra bases, that is the key right there that we really don’t want to do.”

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