EUREKA, Ill. – Grant Mullin (Chicago, Ill./St. Rita H.S.) hit a grand slam, Braxten Ary (Manito, Ill./Midwest Central H.S.) added his first collegiate home run and Mason Diederich (Washington, Ill./Washington H.S.) earned his first career save, leading the Eureka College baseball team to its fifth home-opening win since 2012 in an 11-9 victory over Monmouth, Wednesday afternoon at Henry Sand Field. EC and MC tied 4-4 in the nightcap after umpires called the game after seven innings due to darkness.
The decisions moved Eureka's early-season record to 2-1-1, its best winning percentage (.625) through four games since the turn of the century. The Red Devils' 11-9 triumph in the opener made a winner of first-year head coach Jerry Rashid in his debut at Henry Sand Field. The game-two tie marked Eureka's first baseball tie since a 2-2 final at Dallas on March 7, 2009.
Game 1: Eureka 11, Monmouth 9
Ary and Jake Carter (Carlinville, Ill./Carlinville H.S.) had two hits apiece to pace the Red Devils' seven-hit output. Carter also walked twice to reach safely four times. Kyle Cashdollar (Morton, Ill./Morton H.S.) earned his second career win in relief of Isaiah Taylor (Princeton, Ill./Princeton H.S./Illinois Valley) and Diederich got the final eight outs for his first collegiate save.
The Red Devils grabbed a 4-0 lead when Mullin cleared the bases with his second career home run, a grand slam over the left-field fence in the bottom of the second inning.
Monmouth cut its deficit in half with a bases-loaded walk and an RBI fielder's choice in the third inning before the hosts stunned the Scots with six runs in the bottom half of the frame. Mike Redmond (Chicago, Ill./St. Rita H.S.) drove in a run via a bases-loaded hit-by-pitch and Sean Green (Peoria, Ill./Limestone H.S./Robert Morris-Peoria) singled home a pair before Ary delivered the biggest blow of the outburst, a three-run bomb down the left-field line for his first career long ball. When the dust settled, Eureka had sent 12 batters to the plate in the inning and owned a 10-2 lead.
The visitors refused to go away, scoring three times in the fourth inning. MC received a two-run home run from Mike Dato and later took advantage of two Eureka errors in the fifth inning to battle within 10-9.
Joe Quinn (Coal City, Ill./Coal City H.S./Illinois Valley) delivered insurance for the Red Devils in the bottom of the sixth with a run-scoring groundout that plated Carter. Diederich did the rest, working around a leadoff walk in the seventh and stranding the tying run at third base to pick up the save.
Game 2: Eureka 4, Monmouth 4
Green, Ray Vogel (Bartonville, Ill./Limestone H.S.) and Evan Smith (Moline, Ill./Moline H.S./Sauk Valley) tallied three hits apiece in the nightcap. Both Green and Smith doubled and tripled for five total bases apiece. Kody Silverthorn (Eureka, Ill./Eureka H.S./Parkland) pitched into the seventh inning, striking out six and yielding only three earned runs.
Eureka claimed a 2-0 lead in the bottom of the first inning thanks to some crafty baserunning. Green led off the frame with a triple to center field and later scored for a 1-0 advantage when the Scots misplayed a stolen base attempt up the middle of the diamond. A double-steal attempt later in the inning allowed Mullin to swipe home.
MC got on the board with an unearned run in the third inning, but the Red Devils responded with Mullin's second home run of the afternoon, a two-run shot to the opposite field for a 4-1 cushion.
Dato homered in the fourth to cut Eureka's lead to 4-3. Silverthorn protected the one-run lead over the next several innings before a leadoff walk in the seventh forced the EC bullpen into action. The Scots ultimately scored the tying run when Bryson Sheppard's one-out double scored Max Garey for a 4-4 deadlock. Monmouth tried to take the lead on Dato's flyout in the next at-bat, but Green's throw to the plate cut down Matt Temaner's attempt to take the lead and the score remained tied.
A Monmouth fielding error allowed the Red Devils to put the winning run in scoring position in the bottom of the seventh, but a groundout ended the threat. When the seventh inning ended, umpires conferred briefly with Rashid and Monmouth assistant Ron Nelson before ruling the game a 4-4 tie due to darkness.
Eureka will continue early-season non-conference action Friday in a 2 p.m. start against NAIA Viterbo (Wis.) at Henry Sand Field. The game against the V-Hawks was originally scheduled for Saturday, but was moved up a day due to the weather forecast.