For Immediate Release
Baseball -- April 21, 2012
McConkey's Gem Highlights Saturday Baseball Split
EUREKA, Ill. – Eureka College senior starting pitcher Blake McConkey (Fairview, Ill./Spoon River Valley H.S.) carried a no-hitter into the final inning, ultimately settling for a one-hit shutout in the Red Devils’ 9-0 victory over Principia in the opener of a St. Louis Intercollegiate Athletic Conference doubleheader, Saturday afternoon at Henry Sand Field. The Panthers avoided a three-game weekend series sweep with a 6-2 triumph in game two.
A one-out infield single from Alan Cheatham in the seventh inning was all that separated McConkey from the no-hitter. His effort on Saturday marked the first complete-game shutout of his four-year career. He needed only 76 pitches, 58 of which were strikes, to get through 7.0 scoreless innings. He struck out five and walked only one.
The Red Devils (9-21, 7-11 SLIAC) pushed three runs across in the first inning on their way to the blowout victory. Sophomore shortstop Grant DeWitt (Mt. Sterling, Ill./Brown County H.S.) started the rally with a leadoff double down the left field line. He eventually scored the first run of the game on RBI groundout from junior left fielder Eric Lopez (Lake Villa, Ill./Lakes H.S./Lake County) for a 1-0 advantage. Senior center fielder Michael Hammerstrand (Bloomington, Ill./Bloomington H.S.) added a sacrifice fly and junior catcher Josh Hofer (Washington, Ill./Washington H.S.) tacked on a run-scoring single to give the hosts a 3-0 advantage.
After Hammerstrand’s third-inning RBI infield single made it 4-0, Eureka took advantage of several Principia defensive woes to put the game out of reach with a four-run fourth inning. Eureka senior second baseman Mike Daxenbichler (Bartonville, Ill./Limestone H.S.), who reached base after a strikeout and a Principia throwing error, scored the first run of the frame on another throwing error in the Principia infield. McConkey, Lopez and junior first baseman Kevin Dooley (Normal, Ill./Normal Community H.S./Spoon River) drove in runs later in the inning, as all four runs to score against Principia starting pitcher Greg Ball in the inning were unearned.
McConkey closed the scoring for the Red Devils in the sixth with an opposite-field home run, his third of the season. Dooley collected a game-high three hits, as McConkey, Lopez and Hammerstrand each drove in two.
Principia (11-19, 3-12 SLIAC) scored its first run of the day in the second inning of the nightcap when Kit Banko yanked a leadoff home run down the left field line for a 1-0 lead. Gavin Thomas pushed the lead to 2-0 in the fourth with his RBI single, and the lead swelled to 4-0 in the top of the sixth thanks to a pair of unearned runs.
The Red Devils got their only offense of game two in the sixth when McConkey drilled his second home run of the day, a two-run bomb to the opposite field to cut the deficit in half, 4-2. Eureka brought the tying run to the plate later in the inning, but Principia starter Luke Ball wiggled out of the jam with a flyout and groundout. Cheatham and Thomas tacked on run-scoring hits as part of a two-run eighth for the visitors to push the lead to 6-2.
DeWitt and Dooley picked up two hits apiece to lead the Eureka offense in game two. Sophomore starting pitcher Bryan Meyer (Dunlap, Ill./Dunlap H.S.) struck out five but allowed four earned runs over 7.0 innings in the defeat.
Eureka will continue its six-game homestand Monday in a 3 p.m. SLIAC matchup with defending league champion Webster at Henry Sand Field.
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