After Getting Shut Out, Eureka Tees Off Against Iowa Wesleyan

Photo courtesy of Michelle Curl.
Photo courtesy of Michelle Curl.

EUREKA — Opening day at Henry Sand Field was both a feast and a famine for the Eureka baseball team.

After dropping a 1-0 series-opening game to Iowa Wesleyan, the Red Devils exploded for 25 hits in a 24-5 victory in Game 2 Sunday afternoon.

It was the most runs the team has scored since March 5, 2017, when they opened the season with a 27-1 victory over Rust in Holly Springs, Mississippi.

The win was the Red Devils' first St. Louis Intercollegiate Athletic Conference victory of the season. Eureka is now 5-9 on the year and 1-4 in league play. Iowa Wesleyan is 4-12-1 and 2-4.

The two squads will return to Henry Sand Field to conclude the series on Monday at 12 p.m.

Game 1: Iowa Wesleyan 1, Eureka 0

Iowa Wesleyan pitcher Joe Morrison limited Eureka to just three hits on 91 pitches in seven innings pitched in Game 1. He struck out two and didn't walk any.

EC freshman J.D. Theile (Bloomington, Ill./Normal Community) gave his team a chance to win, only allowing one run on four hits in six innings. The lone run of the game came on a third-inning solo home run by IWU's Jacob Leonard.

Sean Green (Peoria, Ill./Limestone), Mike Redmond (Chicago, Ill./St. Rita) and Braxten Ary (Green Valley, Ill./Midwest Central) each had a hit for the Red Devils; however, Ary was left stranded while Green and Redmond were both caught stealing.

For the second game in a row, the Red Devils didn't commit any errors. Green, the center fielder, had a pair of defensive gems in the fourth inning, making a running snag at the fence on a hard liner by Cullen Papenhagen for the first out and a sliding catch on a blooper by Chazz Brown for the last.

Game 2: Eureka 24, Iowa Wesleyan 5

It didn't take long for EC to make it clear that Game 2 was going to be a different kind of contest. The Red Devils scored nine runs before the Tigers could record four outs.

After an RBI double by Noah Harlan (Knoxville, Ill./Knoxville) and an RBI groundout by Ary got EC started in the first inning, the home team rallied for seven runs on eight hits and two errors in the second.

That wasn't even the Red Devils' highest-scoring inning. Two innings later, they tallied nine more runs on seven hits without relying on a single Tiger error.

The Red Devils posted at least one run in every single inning and averaged six per frame.

By the time it was over, eleven players in gold jerseys had notched at least one hit, eight had collected two or more, five had three or more and one Red Devil even racked up four. Eleven drove in at least one run.

Harlan, a freshman outfielder, went 4-for-5 with two doubles, four runs scored, three RBIs and a walk. Joe Quinn (Coal City, Ill./Coal City), who went 3-for-4 with a double, a home run, two runs scored and a team-high five RBIs, was one of eight EC players to record an extra-base hit — and the only one to knock one over the fence.

The other EC players to record at least three hits were Redmond, Drew Thoele (Teutopolis, Ill./Teutopolis) and Isaiah Davis (Morton, Ill./Morton).

After chasing Iowa Wesleyan starting pitcher Everett Swinson with no outs in the second inning, EC's batters forced the Tigers to go through five more five pitchers.

The mountain of hits overshadowed a complete-game performance by EC pitcher Gregory Cluskey (East Peoria, Ill./Metamora), who improved to 3-1 on the year and fanned nine batters on the day.