EUREKA, Ill. – The Eureka College baseball team scored six times in the first three innings in the opener of Saturday's non-conference doubleheader with USCAA Robert Morris-Springfield, setting the tone for an 8-3 victory over the Eagles. RMU recovered for a 6-5 win in game two to salvage a Saturday split.
The Red Devils wasted little time snagging the lead in game one, scoring three times in the bottom of the first inning. A bunt single from freshman outfielder Braxten Ary (Manito, Ill./Midwest Central H.S.) and a walk to freshman designated hitter Jake Carter (Carlinville, Ill./Carlinville H.S.) allowed sophomore catcher Grant Mullin (Chicago, Ill./St. Rita) to single home Ary for the game's first run. Another run-scoring single by junior third baseman Kyle Maki (Virginia, Minn./Virginia H.S.) and an RMU defensive miscue ended the scoring in the frame.
Freshman outfielder Dusty Nace (Dunlap, Ill./Dunlap H.S.) made it 5-0 with his two-run double in the third inning.
The lead swelled to 7-0 before the Eagles got on the board in the fifth. Back-to-back infield singles by Joey Collura and Nick Grupa made it 7-2 before EC freshman reliever Kyle Cashdollar (Morton, Ill./Morton H.S.) came on to induce an inning-ending 1-2-3 double play and escape a bases-loaded jam.
An RBI fielder's choice from the Eagles made it 7-3 in the sixth, but the Red Devils got the run back in the bottom half of the inning on Mullin's RBI single to score Carter, who tripled to begin the frame.
Mullin paced the EC attack with a 3-for-4 effort. He doubled and drove in two. Ary and Nace also tacked on a pair of hits.
Eureka junior starter Isaiah Taylor (Princeton, Ill/Princeton H.S.) went 4.1 innings, yielding two earned runs and striking out five. Cashdollar earned his first collegiate win in relief. Freshman reliever Brady Sevier (Pekin, Ill./Pekin H.S.) finished off the Eagles with 2.0 scoreless innings.
The game-one victory marked Eureka's first win in a home opener since 2014 and the Red Devils' largest margin of victory in a home opener since beating Illinois College 10-2 on March 18, 2010.
In game two, the visitors put Eureka in a hole early with four unearned runs in the top of the first inning. The Red Devils committed three errors in the inning and only one of the Eagles' four hits drove home a run.
RMU pushed its lead to 6-0 in the top of the fourth with two more unearned runs. The Eagles' lone hit of the frame was an infield single, as a dropped fly ball and a botched rundown led to the damage.
Facing the big deficit, EC rallied. Sophomore second baseman Max Marcoux (Jennings County, Ind./Jennings County H.S.) put the Red Devils on the board with an RBI infield single in the fourth. One inning later, the deficit was 6-4 after two runs scored on an RMU error and Nace tacked on an RBI triple.
Eureka threatened again in its final at-bat. Maki doubled and later scored on Nace's single, trimming the deficit to 6-5, but the Eagles turned a game-ending double play one batter later to end the threat with the winning run standing at the plate.
Maki was 3-for-4 with a double in game two. Mullin and Nace also collected a pair of hits.
Sophomore right-hander Jake Miller (Washington, Ill./Washington H.S.) went the distance for the Red Devils on the mound. He threw 89 pitches and walked none. All six RMU runs were unearned.
Eureka will now turn its attention to the St. Louis Intercollegiate Athletic Conference schedule. The Red Devils will host Blackburn in a 2 p.m. doubleheader Wednesday at Henry Sand Field.