Road matches continue for Eastern


Justin Brown

Freshman Dylan Baird throws to live hitters during a preseason scrimmage at O’Brien Field Monday, Feb. 13. Baird and the Panthers travel to Manhattan, Kansas for a weekend series with Big 12 conference’s Kansas State.

Maher Kawash, Baseball Reporter


Facing a solidified Division I opponent is never easy in college baseball, and it becomes even more difficult on the road.

The Eastern baseball team could use the experience, and that is exactly what they will get at Kansas State this weekend.

The Panthers have just one win this season, but continue to grow in an attempt to improve off last season.

Their one win came in the last game against Central Arkansas, and it was the complete game the team needs to keep using as an example of what could be for the future of this program.

But a 6-2 Kansas State team is going to put that to the test in just about every facet of the game.

Brendon Allen is the first man up on the mound for Eastern as he tries to contain the Wildcats’ lineup.

Allen has not had the start to this season he had in mind considering he is still winless in two games.

His ERA, which stands over 20.00 ,does not help much, but it is exaggerated because of the rough start Allen had in the first game of the season.

He lasted just one out in that game, but did bounce back in his next start against Central Arkansas last weekend as he pitched a little over four innings despite giving up five runs.

Half the battle for Allen will be more than the Wildcat lineup considering who the opposing starter is.

Brogan Heinen comes in for Kansas State with a 1-1 record in his two starts, and he has held an impressive 1.80 ERA.

Game two offers another tough pitching matchup for Eastern as Kansas State sends Justin Heskett, who also holds an ERA under 2.00, to the mound.

Opposing Heskett will be another Panther veteran; Michael McCormick.

McCormick has been solid in his senior campaign so far as he has pitched at least five innings in both starts despite a 0-1 record.

Dustin Wilson is the man on the mound to start game three, and he has also been on the losing end of two starts this season.

Backing the Eastern pitchers in the weekend series will be its lineup that has struggled with consistency so far.

The top of the lineup has been as consistent as can be with Joe Duncan leading things off with a hit in each game last series.

His recent success has earned him a five- game hitting streak, and he also holds the top batting average among Eastern starters.

While the lineup may struggle because of the elite pitching ahead, it may just come down to the bullpen once again.

Eastern’s bullpen has flashed at times such as its most recent game when they were able to back Alex Stevenson’s first career win.

But when the Panthers struggle the bullpen is always an important part of that, and Brent Stephens and Michael Starcevich will be needed to avoid a late inning collapse.

Both pitchers threw two shutout innings out of the bullpen in Eastern’s win, and on a young team like this they may prove to be a crucial part of any success to come.

The schedule does not get much easier for the Panthers following this tough matchup as a midweek road matchup with University of Missouri is set for Tuesday.

Eastern will continue to get accustomed to life on the road as they also do not return home until the end of this month.

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