Panthers prepared for first home game

Brendon+Allen%2C+a+junior+pitcher%2C+prepares+to+pitch+in+the+Panthers%E2%80%9A%C3%84%C3%B4+scrimmage+Wednesday+at+Coaches+Stadium.+The+Panthers+current+record+is+0-17.

Kevin Hall

Brendon Allen, a junior pitcher, prepares to pitch in the Panthers‚Äô scrimmage Wednesday at Coaches Stadium. The Panthers’ current record is 0-17.

Bob Reynolds, Sports Editor

The Eastern baseball team opens its home portion of the schedule with a 3-game series starting Saturday and finishing up with a double-header Sunday.

The Panthers are coming off a 3-game series in which they were swept by Ohio Valley Conference foe Jacksonville State.

Eastern second baseman Dane Sauer said the series against Jacksonville State was to as good as you can get without winning.

“It’s definitely to some good momentum that we’ll need to carry into this weekend,” he said.

Murray State comes into the game with an 8-17 record overall and 4-5 in conference.

The Racers are 1-9 on the road this season, with their only win coming against Southern Illinois in Carbondale.

Murray State hired a new coach this season in Kevin Moulder and by what he has seen so far, Eastern coach Jimmy Schmitz said Moulder is doing a good job.

“(Murray State) is a very sound team,” Schmitz said. “A new coach is trying to do new things. They have a little bit of that newness, excitement kind of an attitude.”

The Racers will start senior pitcher Brock Downey Friday against Eastern red-shirt junior Matt Wivinis in the game on Saturday.

Schmitz said Downey has a really good arm and is a pitcher who could get a team that Game 1 victory.

Downey threw 9.1 innings last season in a 10-inning Murray State win against Eastern in Murray, Ky.

He allowed three runs on 10 hits and allowed four walks.

Eastern senior third baseman Brant Valach tagged Downey for two runs batted in and went 2-for-4 on the day.

The Panthers won 2-of-3 games in the series last year.

Racer sophomore Tyler Lawrence leads the team with a .279 batting average in 25 games played this season.

He has 24 hits in 86 at-bats and three homeruns on the season.

Red-shirt freshman Brandon Hicks leads the Racers in earned run average with a 2.73 in 11 appearances. He has allowed just eight runs in 26 1/3 innings pitched.

Panther senior Garrison Stenger will get the nod in Game 2 against Racer junior Brad Broegel. Eastern junior pitcher Jake Johansmeier will start Game 3. Murray State’s Game 3 starter has yet to be announced.

Schmitz had his team have a scrimmage Wednesday and said it was used as a confidence booster.

“It is about getting them to feel confident,” he said. “It was about guys seeing good things happen.”

Wednesday was the first time the Panthers were able to play on their field due to the bad weather.

The weekend series against Murray State will be the Panthers first home series of the season and Schmitz said he likes their park.

“We have normally done well here,” he said. “Felling comfortable in your own park is what it is all about.”

Schmitz said in order to get a series win this weekend is to play better baseball than they have been playing.

“We have to start making the other team earn runs,” he said. “We have to find ways to put more runners on base.”

The Panthers and Racers will get underway at 1 p.m. Saturday at Coaches Stadium.

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