EUREKA, Ill. – The Eureka College baseball team will continue what is scheduled to be its longest homestand in more than a decade this week with three contests at Henry Sand Field. The Red Devils will host non-conference rival Knox Wednesday at 3:30 p.m. before Greenville visits Saturday for a 1 p.m. St. Louis Intercollegiate Athletic Conference twin bill.
The Red Devils will look to put an end to a four-game skid this week, owning a 4-16 overall record and a 2-7 record against SLIAC opponents. EC is currently in the midst of a 12-game homestand that is scheduled to cover 19 days.
Last Friday against Principia, junior second baseman Evan Smith had two hits in game one and freshman right-hander Braden Mann fired a quality start in game two, but Principia claimed 8-1 victories in both contests of a SLIAC doubleheader at Henry Sand Field. Freshman Jake Carter added two hits in the second game, including a double. Freshman center fielder Braxten Ary also doubled in the game-two loss.
On Saturday, anchored by the top slugging offense in the SLIAC, Spalding won both games of a league doubleheader against Eureka at Henry Sand Field. The Golden Eagles overcame a sluggish start to win game one, 12-1, before earning a 20-2 victory over the Red Devils in the nightcap. Eureka sophomore reliever Josh Mead was solid in relief in game one, firing 3.0 innings without allowing an earned run. Senior Peter Litwiller also fired 1.0 scoreless inning of relief in game one. Ary had a pair of hits, including a third-inning double, to pace Eureka's nine-hit attack in game two. Eight different Red Devils hit safely in the loss.
Through 20 games, the Eureka offense is hitting .215/.325/.299 over 671 combined plate appearances. Grant Mullin (.302), Carter (.293) and Ray Vogel (.267) have been the Red Devils' most reliable regulars through the season's first five weeks. Vogel leads the team with five home runs, 16 RBI and a .583 slugging percentage. Carter has drawn 11 walks for a .455 on-base percentage and has struck out only four times in a team-high 78 plate appearances.
Six different EC pitchers have thrown at least 11.0 innings and seven Red Devils have made at least one start. Junior southpaw Isaiah Taylor leads EC with 25.2 innings and 21 strikeouts. Freshman Brady Sevier has been outstanding out of the bullpen, putting up a 1.93 ERA and 12.2 strikeouts per nine innings over 10 appearances. Freshman Brandon Porter has also been a dependable option in relief with a 2.00 ERA over 9.0 innings.
KNOX AT EUREKA (Wednesday at 3:30 p.m.)
Eureka will host Knox for the first time since 2012 when the Prairie Fire visit Henry Sand Field Wednesday for a 3:30 p.m. first pitch.
KC has an even 7-7 record through its first 14 games, including a 2-2 mark against Midwest Conference opponents after splitting a four-game series with Cornell last week. The Prairie Fire dropped its most recent decision, a 12-10 loss to MacMurray on Sunday in Galesburg.
Drake Sykes is 22-for-50 (.440) through 14 starts to lead a KC offense with a .300 average. The Prairie Fire has outscored opponents 99-72 in 2017.
The Knox pitching staff relies heavily on four hurlers with ERAs at 3.79 or better. Alex Jordan leads the group with a 1.91 mark over a team-high 28.1 innings. He has struck out 42 hitters and limited opposing batters to a .209 batting average. Stryker Davies has a 2.20 ERA in 16.1 innings.
Longtime Knox coach Jami Isaacson is in his 18th season directing the Prairie Fire. The 1992 Knox graduate is the winningest coach in program history and guided KC to the 2008 Midwest Conference championship.
Knox is 5-2 in seven meetings with the Red Devils since 2005, including a 2-1 win in Galesburg last month.
GREENVILLE AT EUREKA (Saturday DH at 1 p.m.)
The Red Devils will return to conference action Saturday when Greenville comes to town for a 1 p.m. doubleheader.
Greenville, which will host Robert Morris-Springfield in a doubleheader Friday before visiting Eureka on Saturday, enters the week with a 13-12 mark and a 5-4 SLIAC record. The Panthers have won four of their last five outings and took two out of three contests from East Division rival Blackburn over the weekend.
The Panthers' offense relies heavily on base-running, as GC leads the SLIAC with 50 stolen bases in its first 25 contests. Greenville ranks in the middle of the league with a .279/.360/.398 line. Junior catcher Travis Ralls leads the team with a .371 average, four home runs and 19 RBI in 89 at-bats.
Nine different pitchers have thrown at least 11.0 innings to make up a balanced GC pitching staff. The team owns a 4.16 ERA over 205.2 innings, led by a 2.79 mark from sophomore right-hander Jonah Moore.
Lynn Carlson has been the baseball head coach at Greenville for more than two decades and is the winningest coach in program history since his arrival in 1997. He is a 1993 graduate of GC, guiding the Panthers to the 2006 regular-season SLIAC crown and the 2015 SLIAC Tournament title.
The Panthers have been a long-time nemesis of the Red Devils. GC has won 26 of 27 meetings in the series since the two schools became SLIAC rivals prior to the 2007 campaign. Eureka has lost 22 in a row since its lone win in that time frame, a 14-12 triumph at Henry Sand Field on May 1, 2008.