On Friday, April 23rd, the Greenville Panthers Baseball Team traveled to Eureka College to take on the Red Devils for two games of a four-game series. The Panthers split the Friday afternoon doubleheader, losing the first game 5-3 and winning the second contest of the day 10-5.
In-game one, the Panthers jumped out to an early lead as senior catcher Mark Islas hit a solo home run in the second inning to take a 1-0 lead over Eureka. This was Islas’s first career home run. The Panthers then tacked on two more in the third inning as Eureka balked in a run with the bases loaded. Later on in that inning, designated hitter and sophomore Logan Garrick hit a deep sacrifice fly to center field to scratch across another run for the Panthers. Unfortunately for the Panthers, that is where the scoring stopped. In the bottom half of that third inning, the Red Devils were able to plate one of their own runs. Until the bottom of the seventh when Eureka scratched across another run, there were all zeros put up on the board by both offenses. Greenville starter Jax Gibson took the mound in the eighth inning when he gave up back-to-back home runs before his day came to an end. Entering the game was a junior reliever, Hunter Cullum. Cullum’s first batter faced, however, hit a solo home run to left, giving Eureka three consecutive solo home runs and a 5-3 lead in the bottom of the eighth. This would become the final score as the Panthers went down in order in the ninth. Gibson’s line for the day was seven innings pitched with 11 hits and seven strikeouts on the day.
In game two, the Panthers’ offense finally got going as they put up a five-spot in the third inning and tacked on three more in the fourth. Greenville then tacked on two more as freshman Josh McGovern drove in a run with a double, and Islas later scored on a past ball. The Red Devils would make a late push, scoring four in the seventh and one run in the eighth inning. Freshman Lucas Teel was able to collect a win while pitching six and two-thirds innings while giving up four runs, three of which were earned while striking out eight.
The next day, the Panthers made another three-hour trip up to Eureka to take on the Red Devils for the final two games of the four-game series. Once again, the Panthers won the first one in a seven-inning slug-fest by the score of 13-11 and lost game two 15-5 in seven innings.
Game one of the day started off with a bang for the Panthers as sophomore first baseman Landon Mokris hit an RBI, double-scoring shortstop Drew Frey. Later in that inning, freshman third baseman Tanner Gerdes hit a three-run home run, giving the Panthers an early 4-0 lead. Eureka would answer in the bottom of the second with their own four-run inning, tying the ball game. The Panthers would then respond in the top of the third with seven more runs. Again though, the Red Devils would answer with five more of their own, making it 11-9 after just three innings of baseball. Each team would tack on two more in the fourth, making it 13-11, and that is where the scoring would end. Starter Luke Fleener allowed nine runs, eight of which were earned on 12 hits, while collecting four strikeouts. Left-handed reliever Chad Plath collected his second save of the season.
Game two was not nearly as friendly for the Panthers as they managed to score one run an inning from the second inning to the sixth inning, giving up nine runs alone in the fifth inning. After three closely contested ball games, the Panthers would lose the series finally 15-5 in a seven-inning game. Starter Ian Wilson gave up five runs on six hits in four innings.
In an interview with Plath about his thoughts on the series, he said, “Look, we are a young team. We are so close to breaking free and becoming something much better. I think once we can bring consistent energy and learn what we have individually, we will be extremely hard to beat.”
The Panthers are now 6-23 on the season and 6-14 in conference play. They look to take on Blackburn on the 30th of April.
Media by Parker Lutz.