Notebook: Eureka Looks to Extend Win Streak Against SLIAC Foes

Photo courtesy of Michelle Curl.
Photo courtesy of Michelle Curl.
EUREKA, Ill. -- The Eureka College baseball team will turn its attention to the bulk of the second half of the 2018 season with five St. Louis Intercollegiate Athletic Conference games this week.
The Red Devils will visit Blackburn Wednesday for a 2 p.m. doubleheader before hosting Wesminster in a three-game West Division series at Henry Sand Field. The Red Devils and Blue Jays will play a single contest Saturday at 3 p.m., followed by a doubleheader Sunday at noon.
Eureka went 4-0 last week, earning a pair of doubleheader sweeps on the road.
Kyle Cashdollar  fired a four-hitter in game two of Wednesday's doubleheader at Edgewood for Eureka's first complete-game shutout in more than four years and Evan Smith hit a two-run single to set the tone in the opener as the Red Devils swept the non-conference twin bill from the Eagles at Stampfl Field in Verona, Wis. Eureka won the opener in eight innings, 6-5, and blanked the Eagles in the nightcap, 5-0.
The victories marked Eureka's first doubleheader sweep since defeating Lincoln Christian twice at Henry Sand Field on May 1, 2016. It also marked the Red Devils' first sweep on the road since taking two from Principia on April 5, 2013. Furthermore, Wednesday's wins were Eureka's first non-league sweep on the road since winning a pair at Lincoln Christian on March 22, 2011.
Eureka ran its win streak to five games for the first time in nearly eight years and secured its first SLIAC 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.
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.
Eureka senior left-hander Isaiah Taylor was named SLIAC/Diamond Sports Pitcher of the Week, according to a Monday afternoon announcement from the league office. Taylor struck out a career-high 17 hitters in a 9.0-inning complete-game victory at Iowa Wesleyan on Friday night.
Taylor, Eureka's first SLIAC Pitcher of the Week since Bryan Meyer on May 9, 2011, became just the third player in NCAA Division III to strike out 17 or more this season. 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.
Through 26.1 innings of work in SLIAC play, Taylor ranks third in the league with 23 strikeouts.
Eureka is hitting .308/.380/.442 as a team over its current five-game win streak. Sean Green has a team-best .474 mark over the last five games. Mike Redmond (.421), Evan Smith (.375), Braxten Ary (.353), Jake Carter (.308) and Grant Mullin (.308) are all hitting .300 or better during the five-game stretch.
The EC pitching staff is overwhelming opposing lineups during the current win streak, putting up a 2.03 ERA and a .142 batting average against.
AT BLACKBURN (Wednesday DH, 2 p.m.)
The Red Devils will look to maintain their momentum Wednesday when they play their fifth and sixth consecutive road contests in a 2 p.m. SLIAC doubleheader at Blackburn.
Blackburn is 6-21 overall this spring and 4-8 against SLIAC opponents. The Beavers dropped two of out three contests to East Division for Principia last Thursday and Saturday, snapping a four-game losing streak with an 8-7 road win over the Panthers on Saturday. Blackburn has lost eight of its last 10, all against conference opponents, since April 5.
The winningest head coach in the history of Blackburn College, Mike Neal is in his 20th season at Blackburn and his 26th season as a head coach in Division III. The 1989 Illinois Wesleyan graduate owns a 323-454-1 record in Carlinville and won an additional 75 games in six seasons as head coach at Millikin (1993-98).
Eureka and Blackburn split last season's doubleheader at Henry Sand Field. The Beavers own a 28-9 record against the Red Devils since April 2001 and EC will be looking for its first win in Carlinville since April 18, 2012.
VS. WESTMINSTER (Saturday, 3 p.m.; Sunday, Noon DH)
Eureka will return home for the first time in two weeks this Saturday and Sunday for a big three-game series against Westminster at Henry Sand Field. EC and WC will play a 9-inning contest Saturday at 3 p.m. before concluding the series with noon doubleheader on Sunday.
The Blue Jays own a 13-10 record and an 8-4 mark in the league. WC won six in a row from April 5 through April 11 before splitting a conference twin bill with nationally ranked Spalding on Saturday in Fulton. Westminster will travel to MacMurray Wednesday for a 1 p.m. doubleheader before kicking off the three-game series with the Red Devils.
Dennis Hughes, a 1980 graduate of Central Missouri, is in his seventh season directing the Blue Jays. Hughes has led WC to a 145-98 mark since his arrival in 2012. He was named SLIAC Coach of the Year in 2013 and led the Blue Jays to a SLIAC Tournament championship and NCAA Tournament bid in 2016.
Westminster took two out of three from the Red Devils last May in Fulton. WC leads the series with the Red Devils 24-7 since EC joined the league in 2007.