The student news site of Eastern Illinois University in Charleston, Illinois.

The Daily Eastern News

The student news site of Eastern Illinois University in Charleston, Illinois.

The Daily Eastern News

The student news site of Eastern Illinois University in Charleston, Illinois.

The Daily Eastern News

Panthers eliminated in first game of OVC Tourney


Ohio Valley Conference

Trevor Nichols pitched five innings during the Panthers’ first game of the OVC Tournament against the Southern Illinois University Edwardsville Cougars in Lexington, KY. The Panthers lost 8-6 against the Courgars, closing out the season.

Autumn Schulz, Sports Editor

The Eastern baseball team was eliminated from the OVC Tournament Championship Wednesday afternoon after losing to SIUE 8-6. 

The Panthers concluded the 2022 season with a 12-12 OVC record and a 33-20 overall record.

Head coach Jason Anderson said that the Panthers simply could not regain traction late in the game.  

“We are disappointed. We had a big lead there early and we thought we were close to pulling away and really taking control of the game,” Anderson said. “We just couldn’t get the clutch hit, some rough defensive mistakes late and they capitalized on them, and they came and got their big hits and then they just got on top and we couldn’t get back on again.” 

Senior left-hander Trevor Nicholson started on the mound for the Panthers, pitching five innings and allowing six hits and three runs. Sophomore right-hander Hayden Birdsong relieved Nicholson in the sixth inning, allowing four hits, five runs, and three earned runs while striking out three. 

The Panthers held the lead until the seventh inning. They had an opportunity to score in the bottom of the ninth but left a runner stranded and the Cougars sealed the 8-6 victory.  

The sixth inning was the strongest offensively for the Panthers as they tacked on three runs to their lead. Dalton Doyle led the way, going 1-for-4 with a homerun and three RBIs. Nicholas Rucker went 2-for-4 and Chris Worcester went 1-for-3 with an RBI. Anderson said that the defense late in the game was not ideal for the Panthers who were already struggling at the plate.  

“We were right where we wanted to be, and we were twelve outs way with a four-run lead and the defense just fell apart right there. You got to tip your hat to them, the day they’ve had, they kept getting the big hits, triples with the bases loaded. We just couldn’t get that big hit.” 

Five Panthers concluded their season by earning OVC honors. Ryan Ignoffo, Hayden Birdsong, Lucas DiLuca, Chris Worcester, and Tyler Conklin all made teams.  

Both Ignoffo and Birdsong earned All-OVC First Team. Ignoffo was second in the OVC in batting average with a .398, which also ranked 16th in the NCAA. He is now the second Panther at the UTIL spot to be named to the First Team. Birdsong had a 1.40 ERA during OVC play with 63 strikeouts and 21 strikeouts looking, he is the third relief-pitcher in EIU history to be named to the First Team. 

DiLuca earned All-OVC second team with a .317 batting average while Worcester and Conklin both were named to the OVC Freshman Team. Worcester ranked 20th in the OVC with a .320 batting average and Conklin posted a 4.80 ERA this season with 22 strikeouts while allowing 29 hits and 19 runs through 30 innings. He is the first EIU freshman pitcher to make the Freshman Team since 2013.  

Anderson said that it was a team effort to get those individual players the opportunity to receive honor and recognition. 

“Very proud of the five guys receiving awards and the team overall. I’ve never had this many guys contribute to wins over the course of the season before. We overcame some substantial injuries and lots of travel to have one of the best seasons in EIU baseball history. It was truly a group effort from a squad that just never stopped competing.” 

The last time the Panthers had over 30 wins was in 2009. Overall, Anderson said that they are all pleased with the historic season and that they can hold their heads high. 

“I could go on all day about what we’ve done this year. To get to 33 wins, where we started out at a couple of years ago, just really, really proud of this group,” Anderson said. “Playing 46 road games this year and they never give up. We went into every game, we played hard, we can hold our heads high. We got beat this game, we didn’t give anything away and so I think we are all going to be real happy with this season.” 

Autumn Schulz is a junior sports media relations major. She can be reached at 581-2812 or [email protected]. 

About the Writer
Photo of Autumn Schulz
Autumn Schulz, Sports Editor

Autumn Schulz is a junior sports media relations major. She previously served as the assistant sports editor at The News.

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