Split series favors Tech in game two against EIU
CHARLESTON, Ill. – Chad Hayes' RBI single in the top of the seventh inning proved to be the game-winner for Tech in game two, as they split Saturday's double-header with the Panthers with a 3-2 victory in the nightcap.
After dropping game one 8-1 courtesy of a monumental pitching effort by EIU's Mike Hoekstra, Tech rallied in game two, taking an early 2-0 lead in the top of the first inning.
Casanova Donaldson, hitting atypically in the two-spot, followed Austin Wulf's walk with a bunt single, and a fielder's choice play on Chad Oberacker's sacrifice hit loaded the bases with no outs. Freshman slugger Zach Stephens stepped in to rip a two-shot single into left field, giving the Golden Eagles the first lead of the game.
The Panthers clawed their way back into the game in the fourth and fifth innings, starting in the fourth when Ryan Dineen followed Shawn Ferguson, who was hit by a pitch, with a single to put Ferguson on third to score on a sac bunt by Reese, cutting the lead to 2-1.
T.J. McManus led off the fifth inning with a double into left center, and scored on a single by Ferguson off of reliever Cullen Park to tie the game at two-all and putting Park on the line for the decision.
Hayes clinched the lead with his efforts in the top of the seventh, putting Tech up 3-2, while Park earned the win after pitching 2.1 innings and notching four Ks. EIU's Brent McNeil shouldered the loss for the Panthers, dropping to 1-2 on the year.
Hayes went 2-for-3 on the day with one RBI, while Donaldson batted a perfect 2-for-2 and Stephens went 1-for-3 with two runs batted in. Ferguson also put up a 2-for-2 effort with a single RBI, while McManus chipped in with the teams only other multi-hit effort of the game with a 2-for-3 showing.
In game one, EIU's Mike Hoekstra held the Golden Eagles to just three hits through eight innings of work, striking out nine batters on the way to an 8-1 Panther victory.
Tech's Tristan Archer worked seven innings for the Golden Eagles, notching six strikeouts on the day, but the Panthers put two runs up quickly in the bottom of the first and second frames for a lead that they would maintain for the duration of the game, tagging Archer with the inevitable loss.
Cam Strang got the Panthers started with a one-out double down the left field line, and scored EIU's first (unearned) run when Ben Thoma reached on a fielding error. Tyler Schweigert added to the lead with a two-out solo shot in the second inning to put EIU up, 2-0.
The Golden Eagles left two men on in the top of the fourth after Oberacker reached first on a strikeout passed ball and Stephens walked, but didn't put a run up until one inning later. They started off the fifth inning with a walk to Evan Frazier, and had runners on first and second after Devin Rivers reached on a fielder's choice and a fielding error left Frazier safe at second.
A second error allowed Hayes on board to load the bases with no outs. Michael Morris reached first on a play at the plate to keep Frazier from scoring, but was out at second on the next play when Wulf reached first and Rivers scored an unearned run for Tech to put the score at 2-1.
That run would prove to be Tech's only on the game, and it came in a hitless inning for the Golden Eagles, as none of Tech's three hits in game one yielded a run. Three different batters in the Golden Eagle lineup accounted for the hits – Casanova Donaldson and Oberacker both went 1-for-4 in game one, while Wulf chipped in with a 1-for-5 showing and an RBI.
The Panthers meanwhile, displayed strong seventh and eight innings for six more insurance runs off of both Archer and his reliever, freshman Garrett Baugh.
Archer was in a two-out scenario in the top of the seventh when Zach Borenstein walked and moved to third on a single by Strang. Strang advanced on the play to put two men in scoring position for McManus, who's base hit to left center scored them both. With one on, Thoma notched a single for himself and with two pinch runners in place, Jake Samuels doubled to left center for two more RBI, upping the Panther lead to 6-1.
Baugh took over in the top of the eighth, but surrendered another two runs courtesy of a two-shot homer by Borenstein.
Borenstein paved the way for the Panthers in game one with his 3-for-4, two run two RBI effort. Strang also went 3-for-4 in the first contest, while Schweigert joined the multi-hit brigade with a 2-for-3 showing.
Hoekstra improved to 5-2 on the season after his dominant performance on the hill, while Archer fell to 4-4.
Headed into Sunday's game three, Tech sits at 14-19 (4-4 OVC) on the season while EIU holds a 12-20 (6-5 OVC) record. The first pitch of the finale game is set for 1 p.m.