Panthers host non-DI opponents over next two days


Michelle Falada

Senior Infield Brant Valach hits the ball during the Eastern men’s baseball game vs SouthEast Missouri Sunday at Coaches Stadium.

Bob Reynolds, Sports Editor

The Eastern baseball team will host two non-Division I opponents over the next couple of days as Benedictine University (Springfield) and Illinois College come to Coaches Stadium.

The Panthers will host Benedictine Tuesday at 2 p.m. and Illinois College Wednesday at 3 p.m.

Last season, the Panthers defeated Illinois College 8-2 in April, but they did not face Benedictine.

Eastern is coming off a tough three-game series against Southeast Missouri, where they lost 2-of-3 and had a hard time figuring out the Redhawks’ pitching staff

The Panthers come into these two games with a 3-26 record overall.

Benedictine University comes in to the season with a 15-18 record overall. Illinois College is 9-12 overall on the season.

The Blueboys are led by junior outfielder Austin Dormire who is hitting .406 this season in 19 games and 69 at-bats. He has one home run on the season and has 28 hits.

Jonathan Schrage is hitting .381 on the season for the Blueboys and has 15 runs batted in and has 24 hits.

Pitching-wise, freshman Dylan Jones has a 4.15 earned run average on the season in six appearances and is 2-1 overall.

Eastern will be only the second DI opponent the Blueboys play this season. Illinois College played Bradley University early this season and lost 11-1.

Senior third baseman Brant Valach said playing these two games will be really good opportunity for some guys that don’t get as much playing time to get some at-bats.

“Although they aren’t DI, they are still college ball players and certainly can’t be taken lightly,” he said.

The Panthers offense has been struggling as of late with going 13-of-63 in their two losses over the weekend against Southeast Missouri.

Eastern second baseman Dane Sauer said in order to get back on track the Panthers need to keep doing what they have been doing.

“If you go back to Saturday, we played really well,” he said. “Sunday was tough. That was a good pitcher who went for (Southeast Missouri). We should be fine offensively.”

The Panthers scored nine runs in the win Saturday against the Redhawks. Eastern had 11 hits on the day and senior Caleb Howell went 3-for-5 with two RBIs.

Howell has his 11-game hitting streak snapped Sunday, but he needs two hits to tie the Eastern career hits record of 260. He leads the Panthers in with a .340 batting average.

Valach said pitching, defense and timely hitting will be the key to getting two mid-week wins, which the Panthers have been struggling to get all season.

“When we get a lead, we need to keep staying aggressive and expanding on that lead,” he said. “The pitchers need to be aggressive and pound the zone.”

Eastern coach Jimmy Schmitz is starting senior pitcher Andrew Grahn Tuesday. Grahn has a nine ERA on the season with six strikeouts.

Red-shirt senior Christian Slazinik will start Wednesday. He is 0-4 on the season with an 15.1 ERA and has 21 strikeouts.

The Panthers will get underway Tuesday at 2 p.m. at Coaches Stadium and 3 p.m. Wednesday.


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