Eastern looks to snap losing streak against Southern Illinois

Junior+Jimmy+Govern+takes+a+swing+at+the+ball+in+Eastern%E2%80%99s+loss+to+Tennessee+Tech+March+30+at+Coaches+Stadium.+The+Panthers+play+on+the+road+at+Southern+Illinois-Carbondale+Tuesday.
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Eastern looks to snap losing streak against Southern Illinois

Junior Jimmy Govern takes a swing at the ball in Eastern’s loss to Tennessee Tech March 30 at Coaches Stadium. The Panthers play on the road at Southern Illinois-Carbondale Tuesday.

Junior Jimmy Govern takes a swing at the ball in Eastern’s loss to Tennessee Tech March 30 at Coaches Stadium. The Panthers play on the road at Southern Illinois-Carbondale Tuesday.

Sean Hastings

Junior Jimmy Govern takes a swing at the ball in Eastern’s loss to Tennessee Tech March 30 at Coaches Stadium. The Panthers play on the road at Southern Illinois-Carbondale Tuesday.

Sean Hastings

Sean Hastings

Junior Jimmy Govern takes a swing at the ball in Eastern’s loss to Tennessee Tech March 30 at Coaches Stadium. The Panthers play on the road at Southern Illinois-Carbondale Tuesday.

Adam Shay, Baseball Reporter

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Coming off a two-game losing streak against Southeast Missouri, the Eastern baseball team has a mid-week game against Southern Illinois-Carbondale on Tuesday.

The Salukis have an overall 17-14 record and are coming off an 8-0 win against Valparaiso. 

However, despite the better overall record compared to the 10-19 Panthers, Eastern won the match-up last year 10-7 on March 29. 

Over the past four games, Southern Illinois-Carbondale has had success on its home field, winning three of those games. 

As for the Panthers, the team has compiled a 9-13 record on the road, losing their last two games to Southeast Missouri. 

With a struggling offense, the Panthers will be challenged against a well-rounded Saluki pitching staff. As a team, their combined ERA is 4.45, but as the game goes into later innings, the relief pitching has not been as effective. 

During the Panthers’ season, the team has had all the components to put together a winning series, yet all aspects of the game have been dispersed. There have been games when the Panthers have tallied high run totals, but the pitching has not supported the offense.

It also works vice versa, when the pitching will provide a stellar performance, but does not receive run support. 

Even with solid pitching coming from sophomore pitcher Alex Stevenson and junior Tyler Jones, the batters must give them a sense of security.

The Panthers’ team batting average slumped the past two games, being held to only two runs. 

Some batters have had their averages drop; however, sophomore catcher Ryan Knernschield has been swinging the bat well, leading the team with a .340 average.

An overlooked area on the Panthers’ team has been their defensive breakdown. Over the weekend, the Panthers tallied three more errors; two in the first game win and one in the third game loss.

As a team, the Salukis have had success coming from their bats. Four every day starters have .300 batting averages or higher, as well as three other players achieving that mark who have not started as many games. 

Specifically, senior shortstop Connor Kopach has been a dominant offensive force for the Salukis, starting with playing in all 31 games. On the season, Kopach leads the team in multiple categories: .373 average, 11 doubles and 47 hits. 

Taking the mound for the Panthers is freshman Blake Malatestinic, who has had a rough go this year. With only throwing 19.1 innings so far, Malatestinic will have the chance to improve his 9.31 ERA against a solid hitting Saluki lineup. 

Going into Southern Illinois-Carbondale’s game, it is the perfect opportunity for the Panthers to bring everything together to prepare for a home weekend series. 

The game will start at 5 p.m. on the Itchy Jones Stadium.

 

Adam Shay can be reached at 581-2812 or [email protected]