Panthers getting better at run prevention


File Photo

Tyler Jones throws a pitch during his start against Morehead State in a 9-8 Eastern, extra-innings win in April 2018 at Coaches Stadium. Eastern’s pitching staff entered Tuesday’s game with a 5.58 era, but earned its first shutout against Butler Tuesday.

Oscar Rzodkiewicz, Baseball Reporter

After a sluggish start to the 2019 campaign, Eastern’s baseball team has rebounded in a big way on the diamond, nabbing eight of its last 15 contests including a win Tuesday over Butler, and there’s no question that pitching has been a huge part to that stabilization.

The Panthers allowed double-digit runs in three of their first five games, but that figure has quietly gone down, allowing 10 or more scores in just three of the last fourteen, with six games featuring three or fewer runs allowed as well.

That progression came to a head against Butler as Eastern recorded its first shutout win of the 2019 season, thanks in large part to junior lefty Foster Anshutz, who spun a two-hit, two-strikeout web over 6.2 innings in the start.

Anshutz and company need to keep up the strong play on the hill if the team hopes to rise back above that .500 mark that evaded the Panthers last season.

Eastern seems to be heading in the right direction already, as four of the Panthers’ seven pitchers that have made a start boast an ERA below five, a mark hit by just one starter all last year.

Anshutz has come out of the gate with the hot arm, posting a 2.12 ERA and holding opposing batters to just a .172 average, but junior Michael YaSenka has also found some good innings and high praise.

Eastern head coach Jason Anderson said, “(YaSenka) is a bulldog on the mound and nothing seems to take him off his game.”

YaSenka’s strength is going deep into contests, staying in the game for over seven innings in both of his last two starts and holding the team-high in innings pitched on the year at 34.

Although he holds a 1-3 record overall, YaSenka also leads the Panthers with 37 strikeouts and is keeping opposing batters at a respectable .260 batting average thus far.

All of this is without mentioning senior Spenser Dexter who has already notched himself an OVC Pitcher of the Week honor earlier this season.

Dexter averages nearly a strikeout per inning this season and has held batters to a sub-.200 hitting mark through the first stretch of this campaign.

This explosion from Dexter is coming just a year after posting a 7.40 ERA with zero wins in the 2018 season.

The talent and ability is there, and now it’s time to keep up the consistency.

Eastern has already allowed double-digit runs in three games following a contest in which they allowed three or fewer while only allowing back-to-back three run or fewer games once.

Building off momentum is tough in any sport, and it’s complicated even more when you have a new arm on the mound day by day, but if Eastern wants to contend for a top spot in the conference, it’s clear what it will take on the mound.

The Panthers look to build on the shutout win in a road matchup with Evansville today to finish up the midweek tilt.

Oscar Rzodkiewicz can be reached at 581-2812 or [email protected]