For Immediate Release
Baseball -- March 30, 2011
Blackburn Sweeps SLIAC Opener From Eureka
CARLINVILLE, Ill. – The Eureka College baseball team rallied to force extra innings in the opener of Wednesday’s St. Louis Intercollegiate Athletic Conference doubleheader at Blackburn, but the Beavers plated a run in the eighth inning for an 8-7 victory in the Red Devils’ first SLIAC game of the season. Blackburn used a seven-run sixth inning to pull away for a 13-3 triumph in game two.
In game one, Eureka jumped out to a 4-0 lead after two innings. Junior starting pitcher Blake McConkey (Fairview, Ill./Spoon River Valley H.S.) delivered a huge blow in the first inning with a three-run homer for a 3-0 lead. The Red Devils made it 4-0 one inning later on an RBI groundout from freshman shortstop Grant DeWitt (Mt. Sterling, Brown County H.S.).
The two squads traded single runs over the next two innings before the hosts rallied in the bottom half of the fourth inning. Nick Cronin delivered the big blow of the inning, hitting a two-run double to tie the game at 5-5. Blackburn scored four runs during the innings, all unearned, after the Red Devils committed their fourth error of the game with two outs. The Beavers took their first lead of the afternoon one inning later, getting run-scoring singles from Ryan Smith and Cody Flowers.
Facing the two-run deficit in its final at-bat, Eureka plated a pair of runs in the seventh inning for a 7-7 tie and extra innings. After a Tim Cashdollar (Morton, Ill./Morton H.S.) single and a walk to McConkey, freshman pinch hitter Jordan Hodel (Roanoke, Ill./Roanoke-Benson H.S.) cleared the bases with his third career double for the 7-7 tie. After Hodel’s heroics, Blackburn earned the walk-off victory one inning later. A single and a stolen base from Jacob Jurczak along with a pair of intentional walks loaded the bases for Austin Mullink, who singled to score the winning run.
Making his 22nd career pitching start, McConkey allowed only two earned runs over 6.0 innings and struck out five. He also paced the Red Devils offensively with a 2-for-2 effort, including the first-inning homer. Cronin collected a game-high three hits for the Beavers.
Like the opener, Eureka struck first in the nightcap for an early lead. Cashdollar’s RBI double in the first inning pushed the Red Devils in front 1-0 before Eureka scored two more runs in the third. Junior Michael Hammerstrand (Bloomington, Ill./Bloomington H.S.) scored on Cashdollar’s groundout and McConkey drilled an RBI single to give the visitors a 3-0 advantage.
Blackburn answered in the bottom half of the inning with its first of two offensive outbursts in the nightcap. The first four batters of the frame recorded singles to get the Beavers on the board before Jurczak cracked a two-run double to tie the game at 3-3. Cronin followed with a two-run single for a 5-3 lead, as Blackburn ultimately sent eight batters to the plate in the inning. The Beavers scored once again in the fourth before exploding for seven runs in the sixth inning to put the game away. The first five batters reached base in the inning.
Senior catcher Alex Hess (Washington, Ill./Washington H.S./Illinois Central) was 3-for-3 to lead Eureka in game two. Eight different Beavers recorded a hit and Jurczak led all players with three runs batted in.
Eureka will resume its season-long 10-game road trip when it kicks off a three-game SLIAC series at Principia at 7 p.m. this Friday in Elsah, Ill. The Red Devils and Panthers will conclude the series with a noon doubleheader on Saturday.
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