For Immediate Release
Baseball -- April 11, 2012
McConkey, DeWitt Push Red Devils Past Blackburn, 11-1
EUREKA, Ill. – Eureka College senior pitcher Blake McConkey (Fairview, Ill./Spoon River Valley H.S.) fired 7.0 strong innings to earn his second victory of the spring, while sophomore shortstop Grant DeWitt (Mt. Sterling, Ill./Brown County H.S.) racked up a career-high four hits, lifting the Red Devils to an 11-1 victory in the opener of a St. Louis Intercollegiate Athletic Conference doubleheader versus Blackburn, Wednesday afternoon at Henry Sand Field in Eureka, Ill. The Beavers plated five runs in the first inning of the nightcap before holding on for an 8-4 win and a doubleheader split.
Eureka (5-21, 3-11 SLIAC) got all the offense it would need in the first inning of the opener. DeWitt led off the frame with a single and later scored the first run of the game on a base hit from junior left fielder Eric Lopez (Lake Villa, Ill./Lakes H.S./Lake County) for a 1-0 advantage. Junior catcher Josh Hofer (Washington, Ill./Washington H.S.) tacked on a two-run single later in the frame, and the Red Devils led, 3-0.
DeWitt smashed a two-run single in the second to extend Eureka’s advantage to 5-0. The Beavers answered with their only run of the game thanks to Austin Mullink’s RBI single in the top of the third, but the hosts got the run back in the bottom of the frame on an RBI single from sophomore second baseman Jordan Hodel (Roanoke, Ill./Roanoke-Benson H.S.).
DeWitt picked up his third RBI of the afternoon in the fourth on a run-scoring single before Hofer, McConkey and Lopez drove in runs as part of a four-run fifth inning. The offense was more than enough for McConkey, who scattered five hits and yielded one run over 7.0 innings. He struck out five. Lopez, Hofer and senior right fielder Mike Daxenbichler (Bartonville, Ill./Limestone H.S.) joined DeWitt as Red Devils to have multi-hit games. DeWitt, Lopez and Hofer each drove in three.
Blackburn used four hits and took advantage of three Eureka errors in first inning of game two to secure a 5-0 advantage. Cody Flowers, the eighth batter of the inning, capped the early burst with a two-run single to left field.
Hofer smacked an RBI double to get the Red Devils on the board in the second inning, but the Beavers eventually pushed their lead to 7-1 after plating single runs in the sixth and eighth innings behind run-scoring hits from Tyler Sopczak and Cody Meyer.
The Eureka offense came to life in the bottom half of the eighth. Senior third baseman Eric Cuevas (Elk Grove Village, Ill./Curie H.S./Roosevelt), DeWitt and McConkey each reached base in front of junior first baseman Kevin Dooley (Normal, Ill./Normal Community H.S./Spoon River), who cleared the bases with a three-run double to left-center field. The hit trimmed Eureka’s deficit to 7-4.
Jacob Conder gave the visitors insurance and an 8-4 advantage with a sacrifice fly in the ninth. Facing the four-run deficit, the Red Devils went down in order in their final at-bat to give the Beavers the doubleheader split.
Senior center fielder Michael Hammerstrand (Bloomington, Ill./Bloomington H.S.) went 2-for-4 in the nightcap, while Cuevas finished 2-for-3. Blackburn starter Ian Andrew threw all 9.0 innings as part of a complete-game win. Eureka sophomore starter Nate Louis (Putnam, Ill./Henry-Senachwine H.S.) threw 5.0 innings and struck out seven in the loss.
Eureka will continue its five-game homestand Saturday with a 3 p.m. start against defending SLIAC champion Webster at Henry Sand Field.
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