Panthers fall to Illinois in single-game matchup


Jason Howell

Senior outfielder Demetre Taylor slides into home during the Panthers 9-7 loss against Illinois on Tuesday at Illinois Field in Champaign. Taylor had two runs, two hits and two RBIs in the game.

Maher Kawash, Staff Reporter

CHAMPAIGN — The Eastern baseball team wrapped up a five-game road trip against Illinois, and only came away with another loss on the season.

The Panthers led by two runs early in the game, but that would not stand long as the Illini escaped with a 9-7 win on their home field.

The loss dropped the Panthers to 5-23 this season and improved the Illini to 12-14.

“We have to score earlier,” Eastern coach Jason Anderson said. “We’ve played 28 games now and we still haven’t been able to knock a pitcher out early.”

Illinois scored five runs in the fifth inning to hold a 9-2 lead in the game, but Eastern did not give up.

The Panthers started to put together a comeback in the seventh inning.

Senior Mitch Gasbarro doubled down the third base line in the seventh to bring in two runs for Eastern and close the deficit to five.

A single from Matt Dunavant in the same inning brought Gasbarro home as the Panthers trailed 9-5.

Eastern was not done there either, as the eighth inning inched the Panthers closer to completing the comeback.

Taylor tripled to center in the top half of the inning to score another run, and he was brought in on a sac-fly RBI from Hennemann.

But after cutting the lead to 9-7, the Panthers comeback stopped there.

While Eastern’s offense could not muster enough runs on the day, it did produce plenty of hits.

Every player in the Panthers’ lineup had a hit in the game, and Gasbarro and Morris were a couple of leaders on the offense.

Gasbarro was 2-for-3 in the game with two RBIs, and Morris went 3-for-4 at the plate.

Hennemann had another solid performance at the plate as well going 1-for-2 while earning two walks and two RBIs.

Taylor also played an important role at the plate for Eastern, going 2-for-4 with two RBIs and a run scored.

Taylor and Hennemann have now reached base safely in 10 straight games.

Senior Jake Johansmeier was the man on the mound for Eastern, and he was pinned with the loss.

Johansmeier held the Illini to one run through the first three innings, but a two-run fourth inning was the deciding factor for the Eastern senior.

Those two runs in the fourth inning came from the Illini catcher Jason Goldstein’s two run homerun.

Goldstein was a tough out in the game as he finished the day with three RBIs on two hits.

After allowing four runs on seven hits in four innings pitched, Johansmeier was replaced by sophomore Jake Haberer.

Haberer struggled on the mound for the Panthers as Illinois got to him for five runs in the fifth inning.

Haberer allowed five runs on seven hits against the nine batters he faced in one inning on the mound.

“When we pitch well our offense and defense struggles, and when we score some runs then our pitching struggles,” Anderson said.

That fifth inning proved to be the difference against the Illini as the Panthers comeback fell just short.


Maher Kawash can be reached at 581-2812 or [email protected]