Panthers have 22 hits in win over Illinois College


Michelle Falada

Freshman pitcher Andy Fisher, prepares to throw the ball during the Eastern men’s baseball game on Saturday.

Bob Reynolds, Sports Editor

Eastern baseball senior outfielder Caleb Howell broke the Eastern all-time career hits record with a single in the bottom of the second.

The Panthers belted out 22 hits in the 18-3 win over Illinois College Wednesday at Coaches Stadium

Howell’s single was his 261st hit of the season, which broke Ryan Campbell’s record of 260.

Campbell was at Eastern from 2004-2007.

Eastern junior outfielder Brant Valach hit a grand slam in the top of the first to get Eastern off to a quick 4-0 lead.

Valach went 3-for-3 and had seven runs batted in, which puts him in the top 10 in career RBIs.

Eastern coach Jimmy Schmitz said Valach has been getting out early to work on his hitting.

“To all his credit, he did all the work,” he said. “That’s what I have been enjoying, that they have been showing up and not just playing the game, but putting in the work.”

The Panthers tacked on three more runs in the bottom of the second, when Valach singled home freshman catcher Hunter Morris.

Freshman Bobby Wenthe doubled home two Panther runners to give Eastern a 7-0 lead after two innings.

Valach picked him his sixth and seventh RBI of the day when he doubled off the wall in center field, which scored sophomore Marshawn Taylor and freshman Joe Duncan.

Eastern senior pitcher Christian Slazinik got the start for the Panthers and shut the door by going three innings, allowing no runs on five hits.

This after Slazinik had two-straight rough outings his past two times out. Slazinik let up four runs on three hits Friday against Southeast Missouri.

Slazinik previously let up five runs on four hits against Illinois on April 7.

Schmitz said he liked the way Slazinik was able to locate his fastball in Wednesday’s start.

“It doesn’t matter if it’s Illinois College or Illinois,” he said. “You have to do some things and he did. He kept the ball down. He did a really nice job.”

Slazinik picked up his first win of the season. He is now 1-4 on the season.

Marshawn Taylor had a career-day, with going 4-for-6 with one RBI and three runs scored. Taylor is now hitting .302 on the season.

The 18 runs the Panthers scored are the most this season, and Schmitz said he has been impressed with the hitting as of late.

“They have been working hard and doing all the things you need to do,” he said. “You have to take advantage of pitching that was maybe not up to par as this weekend. That’s all it is. You have a couple hits, a couple doubles, a couple home runs, that is where the confidence comes from.”

Eastern has been playing its best baseball as of late, winning its last 4-of-7 games.

Howell said the reason for playing good baseball is the team has been playing loose.

“We are not trying to press too much,” he said. “I think overall we are playing good baseball. There has been some conference games where we press too much. We’re not trying to do too much in certain situations.”

The Panthers will be back on the road Friday, when they travel to Nashville, Tenn. to take on Belmont University.

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