‘I’ve never seen that happen before,’ Anderson said after walk-off win against Little Rock


Han Byer

The Eastern Illinois baseball team celebrating a walk-off 7-6 win in game two of a doubleheader over Little Rock while Trojan head coach Chris Curry argues with the umpires about a call that was overturned at first base Saturday afternoon. The Panthers won their first OVC series of the season.

Autumn Schulz, Sports Editor

The Eastern Illinois baseball team won its first Ohio Valley Conference series of the season over Little Rock in a walk-off fashion by redshirt junior third basemen Kolten Poorman Saturday afternoon at Coaches Stadium.

The Panthers won game one of the doubleheader 5-3 and the second game 7-6.

Graduate student right-hander Ky Matthews-Hampton was on the mound for the Panthers in game one. He pitched six innings, allowing nine hits and three runs while striking out four.

Head coach Jason Anderson said that he is the steady guy on the mound.

“He’s going to go deep in games,” Anderson said. “He’s gonna keep the score low, they’re gonna be quick. He’s gonna give us a chance to win. We just haven’t scored much for him this year.”

Offensively, the Panthers had a lot of batters step up to the plate in game one.

Senior centerfielder Lincoln Riley led the way with three hits though five at-bats. Graduate student leftfielder Dominic DiLello was second on the team with three hits.

Poorman, Nicholas Rucker, Grant Lashure, Robby Taul, and Lucas DiLuca all recorded one hit while Lashure led the way with two RBIs.

Anderson said that the Panthers played like a team, and they had really good pitching.

“We bunted the ball,” Anderson said. “We put ourselves in opportunities. We didn’t hit great with runners in scoring position but we got some breaks, they made some errors, some things we our way. We have really been due for something like that.”

The momentum from the first game carried over into the second game for the Panthers as redshirt senior right-hander Blake Malatestinic started on the mound.

He pitched for five innings, allowing six hits, one run, and one earned run while striking out two.

The Trojans crossed the plate first in the top of the second inning after senior infielder Christian Bernabe hit into a double play, allowing junior infielder Skyler Trevino to score.

The Panthers were able to rattle the bats in the bottom of the second and take the 2-1 lead. A sacrifice fly by senior infielder Lucas DiLuca allowed junior catcher Ben Gallaher to score. Later in the inning, a single by senior outfielder Logan Eickhoff allowed DiLello to score.

The bottom of the fifth inning saw the Panthers explode offensively. Gallaher was able to collect a single after an error by the Trojan’s shortstop, advancing Poorman to third base.

DiLello, during the next at-bat, was able to lay down a clean bunt down the third base line, scoring Poorman and making it safely to first base.

DiLello said that laying down the bunt was good.

“Anyway I can help the team was a great feeling and if I gotta bunt, if I gotta do whatever, if I gotta run, whatever it takes to help the team I’ll do,” DiLello said.

Taul was able to advance to second on a throwing error by the Trojan’s catcher, advancing DiLello to third base and scoring Gallaher.

During the next at-bat, DiLuca was able to hit a sacrifice fly, scoring DiLello and giving the Panthers the 5-1 lead.

The Trojans were able to pick up two runs in the top of the sixth inning, cutting the lead to 5-3. The highlight of the sixth inning was a diving catch in left field by DiLello.

Junior right-hander Jonathon Hanscom took over on the mound for the Panthers to begin the seventh inning but was replaced by senior right-hander Zane Robbins in the top of the ninth after allowing the Trojans to pick up two singles.

Both runners were able to advance to second and third after a wild pitch by Robbins. Utility player Graydon Martin was able to tie the game 5-5 after a two run RBI single.

With runners on second and first, a single by senior outfielder Tyler Williams gave the Trojans the 6-5 lead.

Robbins was replaced by senior utility player Ryan Ignoffo who was able to get the third out.

Anderson said that the Trojans had some clutch hits, and they would not go away.

“I mean, the two strikes a couple a different times and they just found ways to get balls and get guys on and when you do that, anything can happen,” Anderson said.

Then came the bottom of the ninth inning when the Panthers were down to their last three outs.

DiLuca was able to make it safely to first after an error by a Trojan infielder and then a single to left field by senior outfielder Lincoln Riley.

During the next at-bat, Eickhoff hit a double to left field that allowed DiLuca to score. Ignoffo was intentionally walked, loading the bases for Poorman.

Poorman was able to walk it off for the Panthers with a fielder’s choice that scored Riley, however, it caused quite the commotion at first base because Poorman was originally called out.

After the umpires got together to discuss the original call, it was overturned because the Trojan’s first baseman’s foot was off the bag.

Therefore, the Panthers sealed the 7-6 win.

Poorman said that the call being overturned was magical.

“First and foremost I want to thank my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ for the opportunity,” Poorman said. “You know, we’ve been having a really tough break. We’ve been playing our tails off, it’s just not falling our way and then we finally caught a break. Put a good swing on a baseball, kind of rushed them a little bit, and it came out in our favor.”

The Panthers improved to 3-6 in the OVC and 19-13 overall, putting them in seventh place.

Poorman said that the series win was a huge turnaround point for the Panthers.

“You know, we’re just over halfway through the season but we got, I think after today we have 22 OVC games left,” Poorman said. “We still got a really good chance of getting a bye in that tournament, having a chance to win and play in regional and that’s the ultimate goal.”

Anderson said to see the game end that way was a shock to him.

“I’ve never seen that happen before,” Anderson said. “So I mean, it was just a really great baseball game. It’s a shame it ended that way but we lost a game on the same thing last week.”

The Panthers will be back in action on Tuesday against Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, IL at 6 p.m.


Autumn Schulz can be reached at 581-2812 or at [email protected]