Eastern loses 9-8 to Salukis

Dillan Schorfheide, Assistant Sports Editor

Eastern pitcher Will Klein winds up in Eastern’s 9-8 loss to Southern Illinois Tuesday at Coaches Field. Klein tossed two innings in the game.
JJ Bullock
Eastern pitcher Will Klein winds up in Eastern’s 9-8 loss to Southern Illinois Tuesday at Coaches Field. Klein tossed two innings in the game.

It was a mistake that Eastern’s baseball team got back in to Tuesday’s game.

It was a mistake that let Southern Illinois take the lead in the top of the ninth inning.

A near miracle from Jimmy Govern almost ended what was otherwise a wild and sloppy game in Eastern’s favor.

And yet, in a game where both teams seemed to be trying to hand each other the victory, the Salukis emerged victorious, topping the Panthers 9-8 Tuesday.

Eastern and Southern combined for five errors in the contest, with Eastern taking the majority (3).

With so many errors, unearned runs were sure to follow, and five of Eastern’s runs were unearned; four of the Salukis’ runs were unearned. In total, more than half of the game’s total runs (9) were unearned.

While that may give some relief to the pitchers and their respective ERAs, the error-stained scoring gave the coaches of both teams appropriate reactions.

Ken Henderson, Southern’s head coach, angrily paced both outside and inside his team’s dugout after a near-game-changing error that led to Eastern tying the game 8-8 in the eighth inning.

After the game, Eastern head coach Jason Anderson was simply flabbergasted.

“I don’t know what to say about that,” Anderson said after the game. “That’s a midweek game. I don’t think either team played well, but we just didn’t play aggressive.”

Tyler Tesmond, who inadvertently had a huge impact on the game despite going 0-for-5, hit a sky-high fly ball to shallow left field, with two outs and the bases loaded in the bottom of the eighth.

Brad Hudson, Southern’s left fielder, misplayed the fly ball and missed it, allowing all three of Eastern’s runners to score. Tesmond ended the play at second base.

Hunter Morris came up next and nailed a double off the center-field fence to bring in Tesmond and cap off a five-run eighth inning for the Panthers.

But Eastern was not done with its charitable contributions to the Salukis.

Alex Lyon led off the top of the ninth inning with a walk from Alex Stevenson, who came in to pitch the ninth for Eastern.

Lyon advanced to second on a wild pitch, and he tagged and advanced to third base when teammate J.T. Weber flew out to center field.

Aiden McMahan came up next for Southern and hit a choppy but manageable ground ball to Christian Pena at second base.

Pena just moved to second in the ninth inning, too, after Jimmy Huber took over at third base.

Pena was already playing in, and when he ran up to the ground ball and put his glove down, he misplayed the bounce and the ball nipped off his glove and rolled by him, allowing Lyon to score the go-ahead run.

But the rollercoaster of a game had one more drop in its tracks that nearly gave Eastern the win.

Govern went 2-for-3 with an RBI Tuesday, after coming into the game in the bottom of the sixth inning by pinch hitting.

In the ninth inning, with two outs and Pena on first base after leading off the inning with a single, Govern tagged the ball to left field.

At first glance, the ball looked like it would get over the left-field fence for one final punchline in the game.

Instead, the ball hit the fence two feet short of a home run, putting Pena at third and Govern at second with a double.

Huber came to the plate as the proverbial savior, but struck out to end the game.

Accompanying the errors on the field was inconsistent pitching from both teams, as Eastern walked six batters and Southern walked seven.

Grant Emme scored the first run of the game, hitting a solo home run to left field in the first inning to give Eastern an early 1-0 lead.

Josh Cooper, who has been a reliever but got his first start for Eastern Tuesday, threw two scoreless innings. Carson Haws followed suit with one scoreless inning before Southern started its scoring in the fourth inning.

In total, Eastern used eight pitchers.

“It’s a bullpen day, some guys competed, some guys didn’t,” Anderson said. “That’s what you get when you try to run seven different guys out there, is that one person falters it can cost you the game.”

The Salukis scored two runs in the fourth and fifth innings, followed by one run in the sixth. In that span, they hit a solo home run in each inning.

After a two-run sixth for Eastern, the Salukis lead 8-3 before the Panthers’ turnaround in the eighth.

The Panthers had a lot of chances to bring in runners in scoring position but failed to do so at times and left 10 runners on base in total.

“We’re not scoring as many runs as we did, and it’s bringing guys down a little bit,” Anderson said. “They want to win ball games, somebody’s going to have to step up and drive the ball.”

Tuesday opened a five-game home stand for Eastern, and the Panthers now host Eastern Kentucky for a three-game series starting Friday at 3 p.m.

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