Runs have been limited for the Eastern baseball team this season especially in conference play, but the Panthers have a chance to turn that around at home.
Eastern hosts Belmont in a three-game series, and once again, rain is impacting the schedule for that series.
Instead of playing three games in as many days, the two teams face off in a double-header Friday followed by the finale on Sunday in an attempt to avoid the expected storms in the forecast Saturday.
While both teams try to avoid rain, the Panthers are just trying to avoid another conference loss.
The key to doing so comes on the offensive end where the bats have just been hit or miss this season.
Junior Tyler Jones takes the ball in game one for Eastern in hopes of limiting a Belmont offense that has been up and down as well to start.
Belmont holds a team batting average of .273, ranking just into the bottom half of the Ohio Valley Conference.
The Bruins are good at getting on base, but they struggle at driving those runs in and that puts them at eighth among the conference.
What Belmont does do well is play clean baseball as the team is third best in the OVC with just 37 errors on the season.
Jones may just be the man for the job if Eastern is going to snap its current three-game skid as he has a 1.76 ERA while capturing three of the Panthers’ 10 wins.
That ERA ranks first in the OVC.
His last outing was one of the best on the year, tossing six innings with one earned run on two hits.
Sophomore Alex Stevenson is dealt the hand in game two of the double-header Friday, and he has seen some all types of action.
His last start was also his best, despite it ending in a loss, as he threw for seven innings and allowed three runs with two of those coming in tough home run shots.
Eastern has not announced its starter for game three, but on the other side, the Panthers will face three right-handed pitchers this weekend.
All of them possess ERA’s above 3.00, but that does not mean they do not rank among the conference’s best.
Casey Queener, who Eastern faces in game three, has pitched the most innings in the OVC with 51, and his go-to is the strikeout pitch.
Queener has 55 strikeouts on the year, and that gives him the third best rank in the conference.
Regardless who is on the mound, the key for the Panthers is to find consistency in their bats.
Eastern has combined for just eight runs in its last four games, and that has led to being outscored 24-8.
This series gets underway Friday at 11 a.m. with game two expected to follow right after at 2:30 p.m.
Maher Kawash can be reached at 581-2812 or [email protected]