Eastern wins 1 of 3 games against Racers


File Photo

Blake Malatestinic hurls a pitch to a Butler batter during Eastern’s 6-3 loss at Coaches Stadium in April 2018. Eastern finished its three-game series with Murray State with one win and two losses.

Dillan Schorfheide, Assistant Sports Editor

Michael Yasenka gave the Eastern baseball team an important outing on the mound against Murray State Friday, as Eastern’s 8-3 win was the only one it got out of three games.

Murray State (8-10, 4-2) only had one inning of scoring in its loss, while Eastern (7-11, 2-4) had an explosive first inning at the plate and good pitching to earn the win.

Yasenka pitched eight innings, giving up three earned runs on six hits and two walks. He also struck out nine Murray State batters.

“Mike did very well again this week,” said Eastern head coach Jason Anderson. “He is a bulldog on the mound and nothing seems to take him off his game.”

Yasenka improved to 1-3 this season in five appearances.

Although Eastern’s pitching has room to improve, Yasenka is another example of the potential the Panthers’ pitching staff has.

Eastern gives up 6.4 runs per game, but in between losses where it gives up large sums of runs, there are good performances that have given the team chances for wins.

Against Western Kentucky University Feb. 25, Spenser Dexter nearly pitched a complete game shutout (eight and one-thirds innings), but an RBI double in the ninth inning broke up the storybook ending.

Previous to that game, against nationally-ranked Arkansas Feb. 17, Dexter threw four innings and only gave up one earned run on three hits.

Eastern lost the Arkansas game but defeated Western Kentucky 8-1.

Unlike those previous games, Friday’s victory did not come after two big losses to an opponent.

Eastern was already on a two-game win streak, after 9-4 and 15-6 victories over Alabama State University.

Supporting Yasenka’s performance on the mound was Eastern’s offense, which, like it has all season, provided big numbers to secure a deserved win for the starting pitcher.

Three Panthers, Ryan Knernschield, Jimmy Huber and Trey Sweeney, led in hitting with 2-for-4 performances batting.

Eastern exploded in the first inning with six runs, started by Hunter Morris’ two-run home run that brought in Dane Toppel.

Shortly after, Christian Pena, who had two RBIs along with Morris, singled to right field and scored Ryan Ignoffo and Knernschield. Knernschield signified Eastern’s fourth run, the only other run Eastern truly needed for the win.

Pena scored after Sweeney singled to center field for Eastern’s fifth run, and Jimmy Govern doubled to left field next, scoring Huber.

Three of Eastern’s runs in the first inning were unearned.

Murray State did its best to push back and score in the fourth inning, when it scored all three of its runs.

One scored on a passed ball, another on a groundout to third base and the last scored on a double to right field.

Sweeney singled to left field in the eighth inning to bring in Grant Emme and Huber, Eastern’s last two runs.

After losing the series-opener, Murray State defeated Eastern 3-1 and 14-6.

“We ran into some good pitching on Saturday, but our Sunday performance was ugly across the board,” Anderson said.

After starting conference play 2-4, Anderson said he has noticed that Eastern has a hard time maintaining momentum.

“We have had several opportunities to really put teams away early and we manage to let them get back into the ballgame or series in some way,” he said.

Eastern is scheduled to have its first home game Tuesday at 3 p.m. against Butler, coming off the two-game losing streak from the end of the Murray State series.

Dillan Schorfheide can be reached at 581-2812 or [email protected]