MOUNT PLEASANT, Iowa – The Eureka College baseball team ran its win streak to five games for the first time in nearly eight years and secured its first St. Louis Intercollegiate Athletic Conference series victory since April 2015 with a West Division doubleheader sweep of Iowa Wesleyan, Friday night in Mount Pleasant, Iowa. Eureka rolled to a 12-4 win in the opener and also won game two 6-2 behind 17 strikeouts from left-hander Isaiah Taylor (Princeton, Ill./Princeton H.S./Illinois Valley).
The wins improved the Red Devils to 10-11-1 overall and 4-8 in the SLIAC under first-year head coach Jerry Rashid. Eureka has double-digit victories in a season for the first time since 2012 and won its 10th game on or before April 13 for the first time since 2010.
Game 1: EC 12, Iowa Wesleyan 4
Gregory Cluskey (East Peoria, Ill./Metamora H.S.) went the distance on the hill to earn his first collegiate victory. He struck out nine and allowed only three earned runs on four hits over 7.0 innings.
Braxten Ary (Manito, Ill./Midwest Central H.S.) went deep in the third inning and Ray Vogel (Bartonville, Ill./Limestone H.S.) added his 16th career home run in the fourth. Mike Redmond (Chicago, Ill./St. Rita) collected a career-high three hits from the nine slot in the Eureka lineup, helping the Red Devils finish the contest with 15 hits.
Eureka never trailed in the opener, taking the lead for good when Ary's second collegiate home run broke a 1-1 tie and made the score 3-1 in favor of the visitors.
The Red Devils ultimately put the game out of reach with a seven-run fourth inning. Tyler Thulean (Chillicothe, Ill./Illinois Valley Central H.S.) and Redmond hit consecutive run-scoring doubles to begin the rally. Ary tacked on a two-run single and Vogel finished the damage with a two-run home run for a 10-1 cushion. The Red Devils had five hits in the inning and took advantage of a critical IWU error midway through the inning.
A bases-loaded walk to Sean Green (Peoria, Ill./Limestone H.S./Robert Morris-Peoria) in the top of the seventh finished EC's scoring.
Game 2: EC 6, Iowa Wesleyan 2
Taylor produced what was easily the finest of his 14-start Eureka career, striking out 17 Tigers in his first career complete game. He walked only one and allowed only one earned run on four IWU hits. He struck out the side in the third, seventh and ninth innings and nine of the last 10 outs he recorded came via strikeout. Taylor's 17 strikeouts were second-most by an NCAA Division III pitcher this season, trailing only an 18-strikeout effort from Spalding's Jimi Keating against Aurora on Feb. 25.
The Eureka offense logged 13 more hits in the nightcap, led by a 4-for-4 effort from Green out of the leadoff spot and a 3-for-5 performance by Redmond. Green also tripled and drove in a game-high three runs. Redmond's six-hit night, which included his first two collegiate extra-base hits, raised his 2018 batting average to .261.
The Red Devils plated single runs in each of the first three innings to grab a 3-1 lead. A double steal by Green and Grant Mullin (Chicago, Ill./St. Rita) in the top of the first gave EC a 1-0 lead. Green tacked on an RBI single in the second and Evan Smith (Moline, Ill./Moline H.S./Sauk Valley) made it 3-1 with a single to score Vogel in the third.
The Tigers kept their deficit at 3-1 until Eureka found breathing room in the sixth. A leadoff walk to Thulean and a bunt single by Redmond set the table for Green, who poked a two-run single through the right side for a 5-1 lead. Green stole third later in the inning and ultimately scored on a single by Joe Quinn (Coal City, Ill./Coal City H.S./Illinois Valley).
Alex Payne got one of the runs back for IWU with an RBI single in the bottom of the sixth, but the rally wouldn't be enough to deter Taylor. Only an infield single with two outs in the seventh kept Taylor from retiring 10 consecutive hitters to end the contest.
Eureka and Iowa Wesleyan are scheduled to finish their three-game league series Saturday at 1 p.m. at Henry Sand Field in Eureka. The Red Devils will be in search of their first SLIAC series sweep since taking three at Principia on April 5-6, 2013.