Another day another dubya for the Diamond Hogs on Sunday as they have their second series sweep of the young season.
Freshman Alex Phillips got the ball again for the Sunday start. He found trouble in the second inning after walking the lead off man, followed by a single to right by Demetre Taylor. Jacob Reese had a nice sacrifice bunt to move up the runners. Phillips walked the eight hole hitter with first base open. He got the nine hole hitter to hit into a 3-2 groundout fielder's choice. The Panthers ultimately stranded three runners after Mitch Gasbarro flew out to right field to end the inning. Life was good again for Phillips, but his day was done after two innings. He only allowed one hit, but walked three. Less than 50% (19 of 40) of his pitchers were strikes. He has had two shaky starts, so it will be interesting to see if Dave Van Horn keeps him as the Sunday guy.
In the bottom of the third, Eastern Illinois starting pitcher Christian Slazinik lost his no-hitter and shutout by one swing of the bat by freshman Andrew Benintendi. His two run homer was the first of home run of his career and knocked in sophomore Michael Bernal, who lead off the inning with a walk.
Freshman Zach Jackson did work coming out of the bullpen again. He kept the Panthers off the board throwing three scoreless innings, while allowing only two hits, two walks, and striking out three. Freshman Dominic Taccolini took the ball in the sixth.
Taccolini plunked the first two batters he faced in the seventh. Van Horn had seen enough and went to the Hogpen. Sophomore Landon Simpson came in to try to work out of the jam. Too bad he didn't get any help from his defense, as a pinch hitter laid down what was suppose to be a sac bunt. Unfortunately for the Hogs, Brian Anderson, who was covering first on the bunt, couldn't handle the throw to first from Bobby Wernes. That loaded the bases for Caleb Howell, who grounded out into a 3-2 fielder's choice. Simpson walked in a run and that ended his day with the Hogs still leading 2-1.
Junior Jacob Stone took the mound with the bases juiced and one down. Stone forced Frankie Perrone to fly out to shallow center. Demetre Taylor singled to right plating two and the Panthers were in the lead 3-2. Jacob Reese grounded out to first to end the damage in the top of the seventh.
Benintendi and Junior Joe Serrano drew back-to-back walks with one out in the bottom of the seventh. That set the stage for Anderson, who single back up the middle, scoring Benintendi from second and tying up the game at 3-3. After Tyler Spoon got the Barry Bonds treatment (intentional walk), Brett McAfee lifted a ball deep to right field. Serrano tagged up from third and easily scored the go ahead run. The Panthers got out of the inning without anymore damage, but lost the lead 4-3 in favor of the Diamond Hogs.
Spoon had a clutch two-out three-RBI double in the bottom of the eighth to blow the game open. The Hogs weren't done scoring as Brett McAfee hit an RBI double, scoring Spoon, to extend the Hogs lead to 8-3.
Michael Gunn came in and shut the door in the ninth for the second game in a row.
The Diamond Hogs finish their home non-conference weekend series slate next weekend with South Alabama (2-4) coming to Fayetteville. First pitch is set for 3:05 on Friday.