Everyone expected the Eastern baseball team to get a blowout victory over Robert Morris (Peoria) Tuesday, which they did with a 13-2 final at Coaches Stadium.
Eastern let the game play out until the top of the seventh inning and called the game after Robert Morris’ at-bat in the top half.
But Robert Morris may have exceeded the expectations of everybody in attendance, by scoring two runs of its own in the middle innings.
At that point in the game, Eastern had already established a 13-0 lead, and the tone of the game suggested an early ending was coming for Robert Morris.
The Eagles found something to take away from the game, though, as they were able to muster up a few innings of action at the plate.
After a 1-2-3 inning in the first inning, Robert Morris loaded the bases in the second inning, threatening a big turn-around and an early surprise for Eastern.
Luke Abraham, Robert Morris’ starting pitcher, lead off the second inning by striking out, but he reached first base on a dropped third strike by Eastern catcher Tarron Lawson.
Next up, Jordan Hursey, singled a soft line drive over Eastern’s first baseman Hunter Morris, and Robert Morris catcher Payton Mojica reached first with a bunt single, loading the bases.
But, instead of getting flustered like Eastern pitchers have this season, the Panthers’ starting pitcher, Carson Haws, struck out three straight batters to keep Eastern’s shutout intact.
“They could hit some so I thought our pitchers did a good job,” said Eastern head coach Jason Anderson.
Haws let one runner reach base in the third inning, but came out of the game after the third inning with a shutout for Eastern. Haws only gave up two hits and struck out seven batters in his start.
After failing to bring in the runners in the second inning, Robert Morris broke its scoreless nightmare in the fourth inning.
Eastern had scored its 13th and last run in the third inning, already burying any chance of coming back the Eagles may have had.
But Robert Morris found some personal glory in the fourth inning.
Cole Berry was the unlucky recipient of the two earned runs given up to Robert Morris, and he started Robert Morris’ magical fourth inning by walking the Eagles’ Mojica.
Clayton Kendrick struck out next, putting Robert Morris in danger with two outs. Mojica advanced to second on a passed ball while Zach Harrison was batting, and Harrison walked shortly after.
Then, Robert Morris’ hero, Caden Hessler, who only had two RBIs prior to Tuesday and had a .150 batting average, singled to left field to bring in Mojica for the Eagles’ first run.
While the Eagles were making (some) progress at the plate, Robert Morris’ Joe Rusch pitched the last three innings and only gave up four hits and struck out three Panthers, not giving up a run.
Berry pitched a second inning in the fifth inning, and he had a similar start by hitting Robert Morris’ Joe Culbertson.
Two batters later, when Hursey was back up at the plate, Culbertson advanced to second base on a wild pitch, and Hursey brought him in with a single up the middle, completing the Eagles’ small success in the overall game.
The RBI was Hursey’s ninth of the season.
Abraham was tagged with the loss for Robert Morris, his fifth on the season. Haws got the win for Eastern, remaining perfect (2-0) on the season.
At the plate, Eastern had five different batters get RBIs, led by designated hitter Ryan Knernschield who went 3-for-4 with four RBIs.
Due to the nature of the game, Eastern was able to rotate a lot of different players in to the game. Even Jack Wolfe, who is a relief pitcher, got an at-bat, reaching first base on a throwing error, which drew a huge roar from the Eastern dugout.
Eastern will host a three-game series against OVC-foe Tennessee-Martin starting this weekend, with the first game set for Friday at 3 p.m.
Dillan Schorfheide can be reached at 581-2812 or [email protected]