EIU Baseball reminisce win against Morehead to prepare for NCAA Tournament


Lauren McQueen

The baseball team celebrates with Hunter Beetley (7) after his walk-off two-run home run in the bottom of the 11th inning during the Panthers’ first game of a three-game series against Eastern Kentucky Saturday at Coaches Stadium. The Panthers’ won the first game 13-11.

Adriana Hernandez-Santana, Editor-in-Chief

On Saturday, Eastern Illinois baseball claimed the title of the Ohio Valley Conference Champions after defeating the No. 1 seed Morehead State with the final score being 6-5. 

The Panthers, while overjoyed with the outcome, had to fight extremely hard in order to get these results. 

Unlike other teams, the Panthers played in 6 of the 10 games, and had the ultimatum of winning their first two matches back to back. 

Head Coach for EIU Baseball Jason Anderson says that the games were critical for the team, and they took preparations extremely seriously. 

“First game was at 9am which is unusual for a college baseball game, so we had batting practice at 7am, waking everybody up in the stadium. It was extremely difficult to get through it but our guys played great. The pitching and defense was tremendous and super proud of all those guys out there.”

The Panthers did their jobs and had three wins under their belt by the time they went into their 6th game. 

Within the first inning, the Panthers had five runs on the board, with four hits. 

But by the third inning, Morehead came back to tie the score 5-5. 

Senior Ryan Ignoffo recollects his thoughts at this time and describes a sinking feeling in his stomach as the game progressed. 

“Watching a slider go over the left field wall and tie the game in your head five zero in the first inning, it kind of hits you. We just knew we had to keep battling, to keep throwing strikes and our team did a tremendous job. We knew we were going to need to score more to beat them and it didn’t really happen,” Ignoffo says.

By the seventh inning, tensions were high between both teams. But as Ignoffo says, he and his teammates were determined to stick to the plan and fight back in order to get the win. 

The last play of the game was a fly ball to right field, which inevitably secured the Panther’s victory. 

Ignoffo admits to being in such shock and awe of the final results that he did not know how to handle all the excitement. 

“I didn’t know what to do,” Ignoffo says. “If you watch the video back, you just see me jumping at first base and I started running over to one of my teammates who was running towards me from the dugout. I told myself I wasn’t gonna dogpile just to try to avoid getting hurt, but I couldn’t resist it. I had to jump in.”

As the excitement wears down, the Panthers have been preparing to travel to Vanderbilt for the NCAA tournament this Friday. The men leave tonight to have a quick practice tomorrow at the field to get a feel for the terrain. 

Although they will be on national tv, both Ignoffo and Anderson both agree that they have high hopes for their team, and just need to take the tournament one pitch at a time. 

Adriana Hernandez-Santana can be reached at 581-2812 or [email protected]