Bats go cold in Eastern baseball team’s weekend series


Sean Hastings

Eastern freshman Blake Malatestinic fires a pitch in the Panther game against Tennessee Tech on March 30 at Coaches Field. Eastern lost the game 9-3 and Malatestinic gave up 1 run in 1.2 innings pitched.

Maher Kawash, Baseball Reporter


 The Eastern baseball team has been hit or miss this season offensively and in a weekend series against Southeast Missouri, the hits and runs went missing. 

The peak of the weekend for Eastern came in game one on Friday, where Tyler Jones tossed six innings of one-run ball followed by another save from Michael Starcevich to close out the 5-3 win. 

Starcevich has solidified the closer role for the Panthers, and he had one of his best performances of the season Friday, as he gave up just one hit in three innings pitched for his fifth save of the season. 

But, that would be the only save opportunity of the weekend for Eastern, as the bats just were not producing in the next two games. 

The Panthers have come up big on the mound at times this season with the bullpen keeping the team in games, but in many of those moments it is the offense that goes missing. 

That was the case in game two where Matt Albert’s solo shot in the fifth was the lone run Eastern could come up with in what resulted in a 3-1 loss. 

Alex Stevenson got the loss on the mound despite actually pitching well, with just three runs allowed in seven innings. 

What makes it a little tougher for the Panthers is the fact that it was one guy dominating for Southeast Missouri in that game. 

Tyler Gagan had the power in his bat, swinging for an early home run and then a double to left field in the fourth to bring in two runs and a lead that would not be topped the rest of the way. 

The surprising thing about the Panthers’ offensive struggles is that the team is not striking out as much as someone would think. 

In the game two loss, Eastern had just five strikeouts and seven hits but just not enough of the clutch hits to bring in any runs. 

The series finale Sunday ended with little fight from the Panthers as nine strikeouts and just one run led to a 13-1 loss. 

The Panthers have not had the easiest time in Ohio Valley Conference play, and a 2-9 conference record may seem rough, but in reality this team has faced some of the toughest competition. 

The bats are struggling because this team has gone up against some of the best pitchers in the conference such as the staffs of Jacksonville State and this Southeast Missouri team. 

Tennessee Tech is in that top three of team pitching too, so it is no surprise that the Panthers are searching for answers on offense considering those three teams are who Eastern has had to open conference play against. 

Eastern does have time to turn it around though and now heads to Southern Illinois Tuesday for a midweek affair before coming home for the weekend series against Belmont, another team that ranks in the top half of team pitching. 

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