Will Johnson tied the game with a home run in the eighth and Logan Thomason put the Eastern Kentucky University baseball team in front for good with a home run in the top of the ninth of a 4-1 victory over No. 3 seed Morehead State University at the Ohio Valley Conference Tournament at Rent One Park in Marion, Illinois.
The No. 6 seed Colonels will face No. 2 seed Austin Peay or No. 8 seed Tennessee-Martin at 4 p.m. ET on Thursday in the double elimination event. The game will air live on ESPN+.
EKU trailed 1-0 when Johnson led off the eighth inning. He sent a 2-2 pitch deep over the wall in left field to tie the game. Morehead State (37-20) starter Dalton Stambaugh retired the next three batters to end the inning.
With one out in the top of the ninth, the Colonels (31-25) got to Stambaugh again. This time Thomason, a freshman from Richmond, Kentucky, sent the second pitch he saw down the left field line to put Eastern Kentucky in front 2-1.
After Stambaugh was pulled, Charles Ludwick was hit by a pitch and Michael Brewer singled to right center. With runners and second and third and two outs, Johnson gave EKU some insurance runs. He ripped a double into the gap in left center to make it a three-run game, 4-1.
Aaron Ochsenbein came in to pitch the bottom of the ninth. He retired the first two batters on a fly ball and a strikeout, but the next two reached base to bring the tying run to the plate. With a 2-2 count, Ochsenbein got Hunter Fain looking to end the game.
Redshirt freshman Will Brian started for Eastern Kentucky, just his fifth start of the season. After giving up a single to start the bottom of the first inning, Brian didn’t allow a hit to any of the next 18 batters he faced, scatting four walks over that span. He finished the day with three hits, one run and five walks allowed over six innings. The Brandenburg, Kentucky native struck out two.
Jacob Abbot (2-0) came in to pitch with a runner on and no outs in the bottom of the seventh. He retired the next three batters and earned the win after tossing two innings of scoreless relief. He gave up two hits and struck out two.
Stambaugh (7-4) allowed two runs on five hits in eight and one-third innings for the Eagles. He walked two and struck out nine.
Johnson finished the game 3-for-4 with a walk, a run and three RBIs. Thomason was 1-for-4 with a run and an RBI. Stephen Hill went 2-for-3 with a walk and an RBI for Morehead State.
“It was a great win,” EKU Head Coach Edwin Thompson said. “It started with Will giving us a great quality start. Then Jacob and Aaron closing it out. To give up just one run against their offense is was really special on their part. Their starter dominated for eight innings. I felt like the third and fourth times through the line-up we started having some better at bats. Finally, Will punched through with one in the eighth and then Logan in the ninth. Defensively we played very well, eliminating three of their runners off the bases. I’m proud of how we have responded and played good baseball down the stretch.”
Fans can get a head start on the 2020 season by placing a non-refundable $40 deposit on season tickets that will be included in the overall price of the package. For questions or to place your deposit, call Alex Harrison at (859) 358-9272 or the EKUSports ticket office at 844-3-GOBIGE.
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