Despite a sluggish pace in its game Tuesday, the Eastern baseball team earned its second straight victory with a 6-3 victory over Chicago State.
The game was the fifth and final game of a home stand for Eastern, before it goes on the road this weekend for a conference series.
Despite putting six runs on the board, Eastern had a somewhat slow day at the plate, as did Chicago State.
The Panthers scored two runs in the fourth, seventh and eighth innings each, but did so in a slow-paced manner.
Eastern head coach Jason Anderson said he wants to see his team play faster going forward.
“We’re looking for something to get excited about,” he said. “And, when you keep stranding runners, it’s deflating.”
Stranding runners was an issue early in the game for Eastern.
Carson Haws and Chicago State’s starter, Edward Kang, matched each other through the first three innings, only allowing a few runners on base and avoiding any trouble.
Eastern left five runners on base in the first three innings, two each in the first and second.
For the game, Eastern left nine runners on base, two more than they did in their 10-9 win over Eastern Kentucky Saturday.
Multiple times this season, Anderson has already said his team needs to step up and drive the ball when runners are in scoring position.
Eastern’s first runs did not come off a driven pitch, but it was enough to get Eastern’s offense going.
In the fourth inning, Jimmy Govern stepped up to the plate with the bases loaded and one out.
Govern fouled off three pitches after getting behind in the count with two strikes against him, worked the count to 3-2 and hit a groundball to Chicago State’s shortstop, Gabriel Coburn, reaching first base and bringing in Keith Kerrigan to break the scoreless tie.
Anderson admitted the fielder’s choice was not the most exciting way to drive in runs.
Grant Emme came up next, singling to shallow right field to score Tyler Tesmond.
Emme and Govern each had two RBIs Tuesday, complemented by Ryan Knernschield who had Eastern’s other two RBIs.
Haws continued to hold the Cougars scoreless, all the way through his final inning, which was the sixth.
He gave up one unearned run on four hits, three walks and struck out eight batters. Haws got six of his strikeouts in the first three innings, starting the game by striking out four straight batters.
“Carson Haws hadn’t pitched that long for a while, he did a brilliant job of going out and throwing strikes,” Anderson said.
Haws’ work did not get him the win, though, as Alex Spahman earned the win.
Haws walked the first batter in the seventh inning, which was when Anderson took him out and brought Spahman in.
The first batter Spahman faced reached on an error, when Spahman misfielded the ball.
After a sacrifice bunt and a strikeout, Chicago State’s Andy Gaytan singled up the middle to tie the game at 2-2, with the first run being tagged on Haws.
Eastern wasted no time taking the lead back, though.
In the bottom half of the seventh, Hunter Morris got on base with a one-out walk.
Christian Pena bunted the ball right back to the pitcher next, but the pitcher, Blake Kaplan who replaced Kang, fell when he tried to field the ball.
That allowed Pena to reach first safely, and Kaplan’s throw to first allowed Morris to advance to third and Pena to second base.
Knernschield finished the job, lining a single down the first base line to score both runners.
Pena represented the fourth run for Eastern, which turned out to be just enough for the win.
After scoring two more in the eighth, Eastern led 6-2 in the ninth.
Jack Wolfe came in to finish the game for Eastern, but he gave up a run and Alex Stevenson came in and earned his third save of the season.
Stringing wins together is something Eastern needs to do, Anderson said after the Panthers’ win Saturday, and Tuesday’s win puts Eastern on a two-game streak.
“It’s good to be playing at home now,” Anderson said, after Eastern started the season with 24 straight road games. “When you’re playing at home, you know you should start playing better; we just have to start playing better.”
After the break in conference play Tuesday, Eastern will face Morehead State on the road for a three-game conference series starting Thursday at 4 p.m.
Dillan Schorfheide can be reached at 581-2812 or [email protected]