Eastern to face Murray State in home opener

Maher Kawash, Baseball Reporter


A change of scenery is always nice but the Eastern baseball team should be most glad to be home.

The Panthers have closed out a 19-game road trip to begin the campaign and now return home for a weekend series against Ohio Valley Conference opponent, Murray State.

The series was supposed to begin Friday afternoon and last through Sunday, but weather called for a change of plans.

The Panthers will now open the series with a doubleheader Friday afternoon beginning at noon for game one.

Game two follows at 3 p.m. and the series caps off Sunday afternoon, but there will be some veterans on the mound for Eastern to start.

Jake Haberer, who usually is a relief pitcher, is coming in to make the start in the series opener, and Michael McCormick takes the ball in game two.

Haberer is coming off a year in which he struggled to keep runs off the scoreboard, but his ERA has seen plenty of improvement ahead of this matchup.

He comes in with an ERA under 4.00 but his longest outing of the season was just 4.0 innings against Samford.

McCormick has also been one of the better arms on the Eastern staff, and comes in with a 5.84 ERA.

He is coming off one of his better starts this season as he lasted 6.2 innings against Jacksonville State while giving up four runs in the loss.

The key for McCormick will to continue keeping the ball on the ground as he has only given up one home run this season and has 17 strikeouts.

Eastern has not yet announced its starter for game three, but there is no doubt the team is going to face some tough opposing pitching.

The Panthers will see two right-handers and one left-handed pitcher in the series, but in games one and two both opponents have an ERA under 4.00.

The opposing pitchers also have something the Eastern staff lacks; long outings and wins.

The Racers come into the series boasting a 12-8 record and have earned three victories in six tries against Ohio Valley Conference opponents.

One thing the Panthers do have heading into the series is some success on their home field.

Despite not playing there yet this season, the Panthers have won seven straight home games dating back to last season.

The Panthers other momentum has to come from a batting lineup that has been somewhat streaky to start the season.

Eastern ranks outside of the top ten in the OVC in team batting average but has seen some uptick in production as of late.

The Panthers found the runs they needed late in the game against Indiana State but still fell just short.

Following this series, Eastern stays home for two more midweek matchups beginning Tuesday.

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