Mar 28, 2018
EUREKA, Ill. -- Following a six-day stretch that included its St. Louis Intercollegiate Athletic Conference opener and nearly a half-dozen games postponed due to a weekend snowstorm and subsequent rainfall, the Eureka College baseball team will turn its attention to a three-game weekend SLIAC series at West Division rival Fontbonne. The West Division series has been tabbed "SLIAC Game of the Week".
The series schedule against the Griffins has been altered. Eureka and Fontbonne will play a doubleheader Friday at noon and a single game Saturday at noon. The series has been moved to CarShield Field in O'Fallon, Mo., a 28-mile drive to the northwest from FBU's usual home in Clayton. CarShield Field has an artificial surface and serves as the home of the River City Rascals of the Frontier League.
LAST WEEK IN REVIEW
Eureka opened its 12th SLIAC schedule last Friday, dropping both games of a conference twin bill to reigning league tournament champion Greenville. The Panthers defeated EC in game one, 3-0, and later rallied for a 7-6 victory over the visitors in 10 innings in game two. The defeats dropped the Red Devils to 3-5-1 overall and 0-2 in SLIAC play.
Kody Silverthorn delivered his most effective start in a Eureka uniform to date in game one, yielding only two earned runs and striking out four in a 6.0-inning complete game. He allowed only five hits. Sean Green, Grant Mullin and Thomas Harrison hit safely for the Red Devils.
In game two, eight different Red Devils recorded a hit, including doubles from Braxten Ary, Mullin and Jake Carter. Carter drove in two runs. Isaiah Taylor pitched into the seventh inning and Mason Diederich punched out three Panthers in 2.2 innings of relief action. Andrew Torbeck won it for Greenville in the bottom of the 10th inning with a leadoff home run.
Saturday's game at NCAA Division I Bradley in Peoria was postponed due to inclement weather. The Red Devils were also postponed in their scheduled matchup Sunday with Knox at Henry Sand Field. Makeup dates for both games have yet to be determined.
RED DEVILS WASHED OUT AT SPALDING
Eureka was scheduled to visit nationally ranked Spalding Wednesday afternoon in Louisville, Ky., but inclement weather and unplayable field conditions forced the doubleheader to be postponed.
Spalding, ranked 21st by D3baseball.com and ABCA/Collegiate Baseball, is now scheduled to host the Red Devils in a twinbill at Derby City Field in Louisville at 1 p.m. CT on Wednesday, April 25.
Eureka owns a .237 team batting average through the first nine games of the season and three Eureka regulars are hitting .333 or better -- sophomore second baseman Jake Carter (.370), junior catcher Grant Mullin (.364) and junior center fielder Sean Green (.333).
Mullin has been a force in the third slot of the Eureka lineup. The Chicago native leads the SLIAC and ranks 19th nationally with an .848 slugging percentage. His 0.44 home runs per game are fifth-most in Division III and his four home runs lead the SLIAC despite making just 37 plate appearances through EC's first nine games. Additionally, Mullin is one of only six players in Division III with at least 33 at bats that hasn't struck out.
Carter and Green share the team lead with five walks apiece and Carter's on-base percentage of .485 leads the Red Devils and ranks eighth among SLIAC hitters. Green leads the Red Devils with four stolen bases.
On the hill, the Eureka pitching staff has combined for a 6.18 ERA through the season's first 67.0 innings -- an improvement of nearly three full runs over last season's final mark. Junior right-hander Kody Silverthorn has anchored the Eureka rotation with a 3.60 ERA over three starts and 15.0 innings. The Eureka native and NJCAA Parkland transfer has thrown two consecutive quality starts, including a 76-pitch effort last Friday at preseason SLIAC East Division favorite Greenville in which he struck out and four and allowed only two earned runs.
Freshman right-hander Mason Diederich has emerged as the stopper in the Red Devils' bullpen, saving two of EC's first three wins. Diederich, who made nine tackles as a reserve linebacker and special-teams dynamo for Eureka's conference-champion football squad last season, has a team-best 3.09 ERA and is limiting opposing batters to a .205 batting average in 11.2 innings of relief work.
AT FONTBONNE (Friday DH, Noon; Saturday, Noon)
Eureka will try to end a seven-day layoff from game competition this Friday when the Red Devils begin a three-game SLIAC West Division series with Fontbonne at CarShield Field in O'Fallon, Mo. Picked second in SLIAC West Division in a preseason coaches' poll, the Griffins are 8-9 overall and will visit MacMurray Wednesday for their SLIAC opener before Eureka visits Friday and Saturday.
FBU went 3-2 during a trip to Florida in early March and swept a doubleheader from Wisconsin-Platteville on March 15.
Fontbonne hits .289/.372/.352 as a team, led by a .426 average from junior outfielder Jackson Penrod. Junior infielder Jonathan Hoevelmann has also been a threat in the FBU lineup -- his 13 stolen bases rank second in the SLIAC and 21st among all NCAA Division III players.
Sophomore Luke Summers owns a 2.40 ERA and a 3-1 record to pace a pitching staff with a 4.51 team ERA. Six different hurlers have logged at least 12.0 innings and senior Cole Lankford has proven to be the best arm out of the bullpen with a 1.84 ERA in nine appearances.
Ryan Good, a St. Louis area native and a former pitching standout at crosstown rival Webster, is in his 12th season directing the Griffins. Good has piloted FBU to 222 wins since 2007, including six league tournament bids and the 2009 SLIAC Tournament championship.
Eureka and Fontbonne have met on the baseball diamond 33 times since 2001 and have played a three-game series every season since EC joined the SLIAC in 2007. The Griffins lead the series since 2001, 26-7, including a 13-2 mark in games hosted by the Griffins. The Red Devils snapped an 18-game skid in the series last spring with a 6-5 come-from-behind walk-off win at Henry Sand Field in 10 innings.