Baseball team to host Tennessee-Martin

Dillan Schorfheide, Assistant Sports Editor

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Time has slowly crept its way up to the Eastern baseball team, and head coach Jason Anderson wants his team to win as much as possible in the closing weeks.

Cole Berry hurls a pitch in the Panthers’ 13-2 win over Robert Morris on Tuesday at Coaches Field. Eastern hosts Tennessee-Martin this weekend.

JJ Bullock
Cole Berry hurls a pitch in the Panthers’ 13-2 win over Robert Morris on Tuesday at Coaches Field. Eastern hosts Tennessee-Martin this weekend.

Eastern still has 14 games left in the season, but considering the Panthers have four three-game series left to play, that only leaves just over two weeks left for games.

Nine of those games are conference matchups, so Eastern has little time left to try and move up as much as possible in the conference standings.

“We are in the home stretch of the conference season,” Anderson said. “We should be very motivated knowing we can earn a good spot in the tournament with six home games left.”

One number Anderson has been mentioning lately is 30: He wants to see his team reach 30 wins this season.

The last time Eastern’s baseball team had 30 wins in a season was 2009, when Eastern finished the year 31-19 overall and 13-5 in OVC play.

Eastern currently is 20-21 overall and 10-11 in OVC play, so getting to that 30-win mark means the Panthers would have to win 10 of their last 14 games.

Winning that many games in such a stretch is possible, yet very tough, for this Eastern team to do.

Pitching has been inconsistent this season, so if the Panthers want 30 wins, the pitching staff (bullpen mainly) will have to step up.

On the flip side, the hitting has not been there at times when the pitching has been good, some consistency will be the key from both sides to get this team to 30 wins.

If anything could give Eastern some boost in its confidence for achieving its goal, its remaining schedule would be it.

Of the nine OVC games left this season, six are against two teams (three each) who are lower than Eastern in OVC standings, Southern Illinois Edwardsville and Tennessee-Martin.

The Cougars are in eighth place, two games behind Eastern in the conference. Currently, with their eighth-place position, the Cougars occupy the last spot for the conference tournament.

Tennessee-Martin, however, is tied for last place with Tennessee Tech, both holding a 5-13 conference record.

The Skyhawks also happen to be Eastern’s opponent this weekend, which will be the second-to-last home series for the Panthers.

A sweep would be a huge step in the right direction for Eastern’s path to 30 wins, but getting a win streak going and keeping that momentum has been a difficulty for Eastern this season.

The longest win streak Eastern has put together this season is four games, and for the most part, Eastern will get one or two wins then lose its momentum with a loss or string of losses.

Looking at the Skyhawks, they have the worst team batting average in the OVC (.242), and they have the seventh-best team ERA in the conference (5.48).

The first game of the series is scheduled to start at 3 p.m. Friday at Coaches Stadium.

“This team has a chance to finish the year above .500, make a deep run in the tournament and get to 30 wins if we can finish strong,” Anderson said. “That hasn’t been done here in a long time.”

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