Baseball team ends losing streak with walk-off win

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Baseball team ends losing streak with walk-off win

Cale Hennemann hits a double to left center to lead off the third inning Wednesday against Illinois College at Coaches Stadium. Hennemann hit a walk-off single in the 10th inning to win.

Cale Hennemann hits a double to left center to lead off the third inning Wednesday against Illinois College at Coaches Stadium. Hennemann hit a walk-off single in the 10th inning to win.

Sean Hastings

Cale Hennemann hits a double to left center to lead off the third inning Wednesday against Illinois College at Coaches Stadium. Hennemann hit a walk-off single in the 10th inning to win.

Sean Hastings

Sean Hastings

Cale Hennemann hits a double to left center to lead off the third inning Wednesday against Illinois College at Coaches Stadium. Hennemann hit a walk-off single in the 10th inning to win.

Maher Kawash, Staff Reporter

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After allowing a go-ahead grand slam in the top of the ninth, the Eastern baseball team thought its fate was sealed against Illinois College.

But senior Matt Dunavant and sophomore Cale Hennemann had other plans for the Panthers as they ended a nine-game losing streak with a 7-6 walk-off win in extra innings.

After Illinois College took a 6-5 lead with the grand slam, Dunavant stepped up to the plate in the bottom of the 9th with an RBI single to tie the game 6-6.

As the game went into extra innings the Panthers did not take long to close out the game.

Illinois College was able to get a runner on in the top of the 10th and just one out in the inning, but senior Matt Wivinis shut the door for Eastern and kept the game tied on the mound.

Senior Jason Scholl led off the bottom half of the inning with a walk, but after two straight putouts the Panthers’ chances of scoring were slim.

But sophomore Joseph Duncan refused to give up as he singled to left to set up Hennemann with runners on first and second and two outs in the inning.

And as he has done all year in Eastern’s lineup, Hennemann came through with a walk-off single to left center that brought in Scholl for the 7-6 win.

Hennemann’s walk-off pushed the Panthers record to 6-31 on the season, and also gave Wivinis his first win on the mound this season.

Hennemann’s strong sophomore campaign continued again in this game as he finished the day 3-for-6 with two RBIs.

He also leads Eastern with his .331 batting average and 25 RBIs this season, while also leading the team with 17 walks on the year.

Hennemann was not the only Panther to succeed at the plate in the game though as their seven runs came off 15 hits.

Duncan also went 3-for-6 in the game as he increased his average to .311 out of the leadoff spot this season.

Sophomores Hunter Morris and Mitch Gasbarro added two hits each for the Panthers, and senior Demetre Taylor produced two hits as well in the clean-up spot.

Although the walk-off won the game, one of the biggest hits came from Morris in the late innings.

With the Panthers leading 4-2 in the eighth inning, Morris stepped up to the plate and sent one over the left field wall for his second homerun of the season.

After nine straight losses, Eastern’s offense finally did something it has struggled with all season, and that is getting clutch hits.

While Dunavant’s game-tying single and Hennemann’s walk-off proved that stat, it was also significant for the Panthers to only strikeout twice in the game.

Following this win, Eastern is set with an opportunity to end its Ohio Valley Conference losing streak now.

The Panthers stay home for a three-game weekend series against Belmont, and are hoping to improve on their 1-14 conference record.

Eastern has lost six straight OVC games, and Belmont comes into the series at 9-6 in conference play this season.

The series will begin Friday in Coaches Stadium at 3 P.M., and games two and three will follow Saturday and Sunday.

 

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