Baseball team falls to Redbirds in rain-shortened game

Ryan Meyer, Baseball Reporter

The Eastern baseball team lost 4-3 Tuesday afternoon to Illinois State in a game that was shortened to seven innings by rain.

The Panthers rallied off a hit by second baseman Lucas DiLuca and RBI walks from outfielder Dane Toppel and shortstop Trey Sweeney from a 4-1 deficit late in the game, but the game was called after the bottom of the seventh inning when the steady drizzle turned to hard rain.

There were solid plays in the outfield made by the Panthers, as first baseman Christian Pena, leftfielder Ben Snapp and centerfielder Keith Kerrigan all made impressive defensive stops.

The Panthers were outhit 10-4 by ISU and their biggest hit was a double by Kerrigan.

Illinois State’s best hitter was shortstop Aidan Huggins, who was 3-for-4 with two doubles. The Redbirds’ record is 8-14 after the win.

Pitcher Nick Laxner took the loss for the Panthers on the mound, going four innings and giving up two runs on six hits and a walk with no strikeouts. From there the Panthers put in three pitchers in three innings, those being Kyle Lang, Jason DeCicco and Trevor Nicholson.

DeCicco and Nicholson combined to throw 2.2 shutout innings.

Eastern’s record is now 13-11 overall, the best overall record in the OVC, going into a conference series on Friday at Belmont. Both teams are 4-5 in conference play, as are both Tennessee Tech and Austin Peay. Belmont has an overall record of 7-12 as of Tuesday. The Panthers are on a two-game conference winning streak heading into the series.

The series is the beginning of a six conference-game stretch for the Panthers, with a homestand against Eastern Kentucky coming up next week. EKU is currently on a five-game losing streak.

Belmont outfielder John Behrends has the fifth best batting average in the OVC behind Eastern players outfielder Logan Eickhoff and Sweeney. Eickhoff didn’t play Tuesday.

Behrends is also third in the conference in hits, second in doubles and fifth in runs scored.

Eastern leads the conference in team batting average, lands tenth in team ERA and is tied for third in fielding percentage. Belmont is sixth, seventh and fifth in the respective categories.

 

Ryan Meyer can be reached at 581-2812 or [email protected]