Notebook: Baseball team stumbling to start OVC play

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Notebook: Baseball team stumbling to start OVC play

Freshman Blake Malatestinic throws a pitch to Tennessee-Tech’s Alex Junior Friday at Coaches Stadium. The Panthers were swept by the Golden Eagles over the weekend. Eastern’s game with Illinois State was canceled due to rain.

Freshman Blake Malatestinic throws a pitch to Tennessee-Tech’s Alex Junior Friday at Coaches Stadium. The Panthers were swept by the Golden Eagles over the weekend. Eastern’s game with Illinois State was canceled due to rain.

Sean Hastings

Freshman Blake Malatestinic throws a pitch to Tennessee-Tech’s Alex Junior Friday at Coaches Stadium. The Panthers were swept by the Golden Eagles over the weekend. Eastern’s game with Illinois State was canceled due to rain.

Sean Hastings

Sean Hastings

Freshman Blake Malatestinic throws a pitch to Tennessee-Tech’s Alex Junior Friday at Coaches Stadium. The Panthers were swept by the Golden Eagles over the weekend. Eastern’s game with Illinois State was canceled due to rain.

Maher Kawash, Baseball Reporter

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The Eastern baseball team ran into the cream of the crop in the Ohio Valley Conference over the weekend, and that is a factor into why the team is just 1-8 to start conference play.

The Panthers flashed some potential, but in the end, were outmatched by the first-place Tennessee Tech Golden Eagles in a three-game sweep.

In fact, Eastern has had a tough draw in most of its opening conference games as its first series game against Jacksonville State which has opened at 6-3.

Jacksonville State got a sweep of its own over the weekend, putting on a show offensively with 21 runs in game two alone followed by 18 combined in games one and two.

Southeast Missouri joined the 20-run club over the weekend too, handing Austin Peay a 20-4 drubbing.

The conference has the ability to do that this season as there are several teams who possess the ability to break out offensively at any time.

Tennessee Tech and Southeast Missouri sit atop the conference, and to no surprise, both rank atop the batting ranks among the conference.

The Golden Eagles have had success at the plate, holding a team batting average over .350.

To compare, Southeast Missouri is right behind them, but its team average is at .297.

Belmont is another team who is faring pretty well on the season, and its .286 team average has been a key reason as to why they are tied for fourth in the OVC with a 7-5 record.

The Bruins did have a tougher weekend on the road against Southern Illinois-Edwardsville though, dropping two of three games.

And to make matters worse, Belmont has an even tougher matchup ahead Tuesday against Power 5 opponent Tennessee.

The tie with Austin Peay in the conference standings will not sit much longer though as the two teams meet next weekend in Nashville for a three-game set.

Morehead State and Eastern Kentucky can be considered to be in the middle of the pact as they have been up and down to start the conference season but still well enough to be over .500 at 5-4.

Morehead State has also taken a little dip out of OVC action by taking part in series’ against Kansas and Alabama State recently.

But, the Eagles have a chance to get back on track with a three-game set against a struggling Tennessee-Martin squad.

The Skyhawks have been much like Eastern to start the season and have a 2-10 conference record to show for it.

In this case, it is in three key parts of the game.

Tennessee-Martin ranks third to last in team hitting as well as dead last in team pitching.

It also does not help that the team has racked up the second most errors in the conference.

There is still beyond plenty of time left to play in the OVC, but if the first few weeks have proven anything, it is that there will be quite a bit of solid competition for the rest of the season.

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