Baseball falls to Little Rock in 14-inning final

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. – In a 14-inning marathon at Gary Hogan Field, the Eastern Illinois baseball team (13-23, 7-8 OVC) fell just short of a major series victory with a 5-4 loss to Little Rock (22-7, 10-5 OVC) on Sunday. It was the most innings Eastern has played in a single game since 2012, when the Panthers hit Austin Peay 17 times.

It was a fantastic outing for EIU’s starting pitcher Colton Cocabut the start was shaky, as the Trojans scored two runs in the first inning on a wild pitch and a basesloaded walk.

However, Coca stayed calm and made Little Rock play their first of three double plays to limit the early damage.

Eastern would find its way to the plate in the third inning. After one-out singles from Trenton Pallas And Tyler Castroplus a walk along Quad Peters, Lucas Loos tied the game with a two RBI single.

Two batters later a hard hit ball up the middle Cole Gober gave the Little Rock infielder some trouble, allowing Peters and Loos to score on an error, making it 4-2 Panthers.

The next three innings were a total stalemate as neither team managed to push any more runs across the plate.

After the first inning, Colton Coca went the next five and two-thirds without giving up a run and struck out three Trojans. His final stat line was three earned runs on six hits with four strikeouts in 6.2 innings pitched.

Little Rock finally broke through in the seventh inning with a Luke Pectol RBI double, but the team was unable to tie or take the lead as they left two runners on base.

However, Eastern failed to produce any insurance runs in the eighth or ninth innings, and down to their final out, the Trojans tied the game with a Nico Baumbach RBI single to force the game into extra innings.

The pitching continued to shine during the first three innings of extras, as both teams combined for only two hits.

In the bottom of the 13th, Little Rock threatened with runners on the corners and only one out, but Jac Potteiger came in and got a swinging strikeout and grounded to first base to escape the inning and extend the game.

The Panthers’ offense remained dormant in the top of the 14th inning, as they were shut out for the fourth straight inning.

In Little Rock’s next at bat, a leadoff walk, an error and another walk loaded the bases, with only one walk. This time, Eastern was unable to maneuver itself out of trouble as Tyler Williams worked a walk to drive in the winning run.

Jac Potteiger (1-2) suffered the loss, while Austin Stubber (6-1) won again after four perfect innings of relief work.

The Panthers combined for just six goals on the day. Lucas Loos was the only East hitter with more than one strike as he extended his on-base streak to 31 games with a 2-6, which included two RBIs.

EIU returns to Coaches Stadium this week for a pair of non-conference games against Butler and Illinois Wesleyan on Tuesday and Wednesday at 3 p.m. before hosting Southern Indiana for more OVC action next weekend.