MURRAY, Ky. – The Eastern Kentucky University baseball team used an eight-run first inning to establish a lead it would not surrender, beating the Murray State University Racers, 10-4, at Reagan Field on Sunday.
The Colonels (23-25, 9-15 OVC) came out swinging in the first inning when Cornell Nixon led the game off with a single. Nick Howie sent a double into right field in the next at-bat, putting runners on second and third. Ben Fisher used a double to right center to bring both Nixon and Howie home and give EKU a 2-0 lead. After Alex Holderbach drew a walk and Shea Sullivan singled with a bunt to load the bases, Matt Olive launched his fourth home run of the season over the wall in left center for a bases clearing grand slam. Finally, Ryland Kerr singled and scored in the next at-bat thanks to a Logan Starnes double, putting the Colonels in front 7-0 heading to the bottom of the first.
The Racers (24-24, 12-12 OVC) got a run back in the bottom of the second on a Jack Hranec single, making it 7-1 EKU after the second.
A scoreless third gave way to the fourth where Eastern would extend its lead. Fisher started the inning off getting hit by a pitch and advancing to second on a wild pitch. A Holderbach single sent Fisher to third, and a Sullivan sacrifice fly brought him home. After a passed ball allowed Holderbach to advance to second, Olive doubled down the left field line to score Holderbach, giving EKU a 9-1 lead after the top of the fourth.
Murray State tried to chip away at the EKU lead in the bottom of the fifth, but only managed to score one run on a Brandon Gutzler double, and the Colonels took a 9-2 advantage into the sixth.
In the sixth the Racers continued to claw away at the Eastern lead, this time with a two-run homer from Hranec. EKU still held the lead, 9-4, going into the seventh.
Eastern cracked double digits in the top of the eighth when Brenden Overton, who came on as a pinch runner for Holderbach, scored from third on a wild pitch, extending Eastern’s lead to six, 10-4. EKU would shut the Racers down over the next two innings, securing the 10-4 victory.
Olive’s five RBIs on three hits led the way for Eastern. Fisher picked up two RBIs, while Nixon, Holderbach and Sullivan finished with two hits each. Bryan Quillens (3-2) earned the win with six innings on the mound, striking out three. Caleb Johnson notched his seventh save of the year with his three innings of scoreless relief.
The Colonels return to Richmond to host the University of Tennessee Volunteers for a Strikeout ALS game on Wednesday. First pitch is scheduled for 6:30 p.m. at Earle Combs Stadium.