Panthers advance to first OVC Championship since 2012

Story Links Next Game:

against Morehead State

05/27/2023 | 12 p.m.


Can. 27 (Sat) / 12 p.m.

against Morehead State

Tweet #LOYAtTRUE | Photo Gallery (by Sandy King)

MARION, Ill. — Eastern Illinois Baseball (37-19) advances to the Ohio Valley Conference Championship Game for the first time since 2012 following a 5-1 win over the Texas Trojans. Little Rock, seeded No. 2 (31-23). This is the Panthers’ seventh league game.

During their win, EIU tied the all-time record in school history for most wins in a season with 37. The last team to earn 37 wins was the 1998 team that s also made it to the OVC Championship Game.

Three different Panthers had three hits in the win including three from Ryan Ignoffo. Ignoffo set the tone for EIU with an RBI in the first inning. Logan Eickhoff and Nicholas Rucker both had three hits and an RBI.

Starting pitcher Jackson Nichols didn’t get a decision tonight but kept the Panthers alive early in the game. Nichols pitched in 3.1 innings, allowing only one run on five hits. Reliever Jonathon Hanscom (W, 2-1) picked up the win after 2.2 innings of work and five strikeouts.

The Eastern Illinois bullpen allowed just three hits in 5.1 innings of work. The pitching staff struck out the last eight batters, including Zane Robbins’ rare four-strikeout inning closer.

Ryan Ignoffo: 3-5, 2G, RBI, R | 1.1 IP, 0H, K
Nicholas Rucker: 3-3, RBI, R
Logan Eickhoff: 3-5, RBI
Jackson Nichols: 3.1 IP, 5 H, R, K
Jonathon Hanscom: F (2-1), 2.2 IP, H, 5K
Zane Robbins: IP 1.0, 4K

The Panthers started their second straight game in this tournament with three points. Lincoln Riley singled and was brought home by Ignoffo after a double to right field.

Nicholas Rucker then tagged Ignoffo after a shallow fly ball into center field dropped. Kolten Poorman had the final RBI with a sack steal in right field to put EIU ahead 3-0 early. Nichols blocked two runners late in the first, including a 6-3 double play.

The Trojans got on the board in the second after Ty Rhoades scored a single into left field to score one. Eastern Illinois would get that run in the top of the third after Logan Eickhoff returned to pitch to tag Rucker. EIU would leave the bases loaded to end the inning.

Despite the Panthers’ early lead, EIU would leave the bases loaded again at fourth after Lashure, Rucker and Eickhoff all singled. Eastern blocked nine runners in the first four runs.

Nichols ended his day on the mound after striking out one in the third inning. Reliever Jonathon Hanscom would take his place and block two runners while getting the final with a full strikeout.

Both teams struggled to cross runners mid-innings. Hanscom faced trouble in the sixth inning after a pitched hit and a walk, but would get a strikeout to end the rally for Little Rock.

EIU charged for the third time in the seventh but failed to score with two outs. Lashure flew to the center to knock Erik McKnight out of the inning. EIU reliever Colton Coca put two runners in the seventh with two outs, but Ignoffo came on the mound and got a groundout late in the seventh.

The Panthers returned to their roots playing small ball in the eighth. After a walk from Jared Evans (pinch runner Sean Lynch Jr.), Cole Gober hit a bunt off the bag to get the runner going. Eickhoff then hit a ball down the middle to advance Lynch, which led to an error that marked the fifth inning of the EIU ball game.

Ignoffo returned to the mound in the eighth and made three leads three runs to hold the Panthers’ lead to five points. Chris Worcester also had a short diving game to save a single.

Robbins entered the game for his third appearance in the last five games of the OVC tournament. He had struck out three straight batters before a wild pitch allowed a runner to reach first after a swing and miss. He would then retire the last batter to end the game.

EIU scored five runs on 13 hits with no errors. Little Rock scored one run on eight hits with two errors.

Eastern Illinois will face No. 1 Morehead State tomorrow at 12:00 p.m. CT for the OVC title. For more updates, visit


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