Eastern pitching starting to find groove


Justin Brown

Senior Chase Thurston delivers a pitch Wednesday at Coaches Stadium. Thurston (1-0, 4.97 ERA) will take the mound today at Saint Louis University.

Tyler McCluskey, Baseball reporter

With the Panthers dropping three to Ohio Valley Conference opponent Tennessee Tech this past weekend, the Panthers are now 2-7 in conference play.

Two weeks ago, before their series against Murray State, coach Jason Anderson said that pitching was a strong point of the team.

“We’ve really started to come along lately. (Against Indiana State) we gave up only two runs,” Anderson said. “So the pitching is really coming along.”

Among the pitching strengths, Anderson said that he was gearing towards a set rotation prior to the Murray State series.

“We’ve kind of went through some different starters. We’ve had some guys struggle early and some other guys really pitch well,” Anderson said. “We’ve adjusted some things we feel like we got the right formula heading into our first home game.”

In the home opening weekend against the Racers, the Panthers won one game but the Panther pitching showed promise. Redshirt junior Jake Haberer was the game one starter against Murray State and Anderson said that he’s a guy that can throw hard; even up to 95 mph.

“(He) started in the bullpen but made the adjustment in to starting,” Anderson said. “We feel like he can hold down the job.”

And on that game one, Haberer had a good outing going five innings allowing only two runs on five hits with six strikeouts. Haberer said he felt good getting the start but had to battle back.

“I felt like my stuff was good. I just struggled getting ahead in the count a lot. I was always behind trying to battle back,” Haberer said. “Going into, especially as a Friday night guy, you’re expected to get your team into position to win the whole time and keep your team in it.”

That game was just his second start of the season. Haberer said that he was just mostly throwing fastballs trying to work the count, especially with the wind blowing in.

“With the wind like that, you just got to go right at them because the ball wasn’t traveling at all,” Haberer said.

The Panthers had a seven run lead up until the Racers put up five in the sixth, in which Haberer was replacedby redshirt junior Devin Rose following a balk to advance runners. The decision to take out Haberer came because it was only his second start on the season and had not gone five innings all year.

“He was through five innings, a lot of walks, we had a seven run lead, and so we had hoped our bullpen could keep it,” Anderson said. “They didn’t. Our bullpen has to be able to get through four innings with a seven-run lead or we’re not going to beat anybody.”

But on the plus side of things, the Panthers seem to have found a closer that could help end those late leads and close out games in junior Michael Starcevich, who got the save in game three.

“(Starcevich) showed that he’s ready to do it,” Anderson said. “I’d say he’s earned it.”

Tyler McCluskey can be reached at 581-2812 or at [email protected].