Hammon's Heroics, Leonard's Bat Help Baseball Eagles Take Down EIu Twice Thursday
Senior shortstop Reid Leonard totaled seven hits, including the go-ahead RBI single in the opener, and senior left-fielder Jake Hammon belted a two-out, two-run homer to take the lead in game two as the Morehead State baseball team defeated Eastern Illinois 11-8 and 10-8 in a doubleheader at Allen Field Thursday.
Leonard became just the fifth player in OVC history to reach 300 career hits with his prolific day, which also included a solo home run in the second contest.
"It's nice to have guys like Reid and Ham (Jake Hammon) who are seniors and have been in many games like these," said head coach Mike McGuire. "They knew what we needed to win."
The Eagles improved to 19-1 at home in 2019 and to 26-14 overall and 11-6 in the OVC. The Panthers slid back to 18-20 overall and 9-11 in the league.
The teams will attempt to wrap up the Easter weekend series Friday at 1 p.m. ET.
Morehead State busted open a 4-4 stalemate with seven runs in the eighth inning and then had to fend off a determined Panther offense that plated four in the top of the ninth before the Eagles could finally seal the win.
Included in the eighth-inning outburst was Leonard's single that plated junior third baseman Dom Peroni with the fifth run and a three-run towering home run by senior designated hitter Trevor Snyder. Hammon also had an RBI single, and senior center-fielder Connor Pauly belted a two-run double.
Tied 1-1 in the fifth, Leonard's RBIs single kick-started a three-run rally to put his team on top 4-1. The Panthers eventually tied it 4-4 with three in the seventh, including the first of two homers by leadoff hitter Jimmy Govern.
Despite surrendering five runs in two frames, junior closer Jake Ziegelmeyer was tabbed with the win to improve to 3-1. The Eagles tagged EIU's Josh Cooper for all seven tallies in the eighth as he fell to 0-4. MSU sophomore Cory Conway came on in the ninth to get the final out on Govern's fly out after giving up two singles and a walk.
Another seesaw affair came down to the final at-bat for the Eagles with two outs. Sophomore Stephen Hill was plunked by a Blake Malatestinic pitch, setting up Hammon's chance. The lefty crushed the first pitch he saw over the wall in right center-field.
Freshman right-hander Landon Weins, who had entered in the eighth and got the final two outs, then struck out the final two EIU batters at the top of the order to collect the win and improve to 4-1.
After falling behind 3-0 in the first, the Eagles got two runs back in the bottom of the frame when senior catcher Hunter Fain nailed his ninth homer of the year and Pauly followed with a solo shot.
EIU battled back and took a 7-4 lead into the fifth inning. Leonard got a four-run rally going with his third homer of the year, a mammoth shot that went over the left-field foul pole. Moments later, junior Ryan Layne lifted a single that dropped into shallow center-field to score the tying (seventh) and go-ahead (eighth) runs.
Leonard and Pauly had three hits each, as the Eagles had 14 for the night. Fain, Layne and Hammon registered multiple hit games as well.