Notebook: EC Baseball Heads South for Spring Break

Photo courtesy of Michelle Curl.
Photo courtesy of Michelle Curl.
EUREKA — With a pair of season-opening shutout victories under its belt, the Eureka College baseball team is off on a long-awaited trip for spring break. 
 
This week, the Red Devils are playing five games in five days and in three states, before heading back to Illinois for a non-conference doubleheader to conclude the weekend. 
 
 
It starts with a 2:30 p.m. game at Hanover (Ind.) on Tuesday. They will then play a 1 p.m. doubleheader at Sewanee (Tenn.) on Wednesday and a third game against Sewanee on Thursday at a time to be announced. 
 
On Friday, they'll wrap up the trip at Centre (Ky.) at 1 p.m. Then, on Sunday, the Red Devils will face Elmhurst in Jacksonville at noon and will play Illinois College at 3:30 p.m.
 
SEASON-OPENING HIGHLIGHTS
Friday was a history-making day for the Red Devils. Eureka opened the season with a sweep for the first time since the program's modern era began in 2000, pounding Northland 9-0 in each contest.
 
It also had its share of individual highlights. 
 
Sophomore pitcher Gregory Cluskey only allowed one hit and no runs in six innings, struck out five batters and conceded just one walk in Game 1. In Game 2, freshman J.D. Theile held Northland scoreless for five innings while only giving up three hits and two walks – and had seven strikeouts. 
 
At the plate, senior Joe Quinn and sophomore Mike Redmond both batted .333. Redmond and senior Sean Green recorded the highest on-base percentages at .556 and .545, respectively, and Green collected a team-high four stolen bases.
 
Redmond and junior Jake Carter each walked three times, and junior Braxten Ary and senior Grant Mullin each drove in a pair of runs, as did senior Jeremy Sinople and freshman Hunter Triche.
 
AT HANOVER (Tuesday, 2:30 p.m.)
When Eureka takes on Hanover to begin the trip on Tuesday, it will be the Red Devils' first game against a team with a winning record. The Panthers are 4-2 and coming home to host their first home game after a solid showing at the RussMatt Central Florida Invitational last week. 
 
Hanover closed the trip with a 6-2 win over Northern Vermont-Lyndon on Friday and a 2-0 victory against Cabrini on Saturday. By tournament's end, the Panthers had swept Northern Vermont-Lyndon, split with Cabrini and split with MSOE. 
 
Grant Bellak is in his first season as coach at Hanover. Last year, he guided Franklin to 38 wins and the program's first NCAA Division III national tournament for the first time since 2011.
 
AT SEWANEE (Wednesday, 1 p.m., 3:30 p.m. Thursday, TBA )
Sewanee has already played 13 games, compiling an 8-5 record since opening the season in the Huntingdon Firehouse Classic in Montgomery, Alabama, on Feb. 8. The Tigers will face Covenant on Tuesday before they take on EC Wednesday. 
 
They're currently looking to bounce back from getting swept at Berry this past weekend. Fifth-year coach David Jenkins and the Tigers compete in Southern Athletic Association and are coming off a 12-22 2018 season.
 
AT CENTRE (Friday, 1 p.m.) 
The Red Devils' third and final southern opponent of the trip has also already played 12 games and captured eight wins. The Colonels most recently split  with Millsaps in their Southern Athletic Association league-opening series on Saturday.
 
They dropped a 6-5 game that went to 10 innings and got the edge in a 2-1 victory in seven. Before the loss, Centre had won five straight, earning wins over Berea, Dominican, Olivet, Mount St. Joseph and familiar EC foe Spalding. Drew Briese, a 2000 Centre graduate, is the Colonels' third-year head coach. The team went 17-22 last year.
 
VS. ELMHURST (Sunday, 12 p.m.)
Once they return to Illinois, EC will meet an Elmhurst squad that is also early in it season, Like EC, the Blues Jays have seen their games affected by unruly late-winter weather.
 
But they finally opened their season with a close split against Lawrence on March 2. Elmhurst dropped the opener 3-4 and took the encore 6-2. Joel Southern's Blue Jays are following a 22-17 season in 2018 that marked the first time the team has posted three straight 20-win campaigns since 2001. Southern has been at the program's helm since 2007.
 
VS. ILLINOIS COLLEGE (Sunday, 3:30 p.m.)
Illinois College is the only team on Eureka's slate this week that has a losing record to start the week. The Blueboys currently stand 3-5. They dropped five of their first six contests at the RussMatt Central Florida Invitational before snagging a 7-6 win over Fredonia in 10 innings and a 12-9 victory over Illinois Wesleyan on Friday.
 
They'll play their first game on familiar territory when they host Coe in a Saturday doubleheader, and will then take on Elmhurst Sunday morning before the weekend finale against EC. Jacob Waddle is a first-year head coach for the Blueboys.
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