The Eastern Michigan University baseball team opened their season with a 5-4 loss against New Jersey Institute of Technology Feb. 15 in Hoover, Alabama.
The Eagles start this season the same way they started last season, with an opening day loss. EMU had a lead late in the game but was not able to hang on, and as a result, start their year 0-1.
Eastern Michigan took the lead at the top of the ninth inning after they loaded bases, and junior Devin Hager scored off an RBI walk by junior Zachary Owings to go up 4-3. That was all for naught as the Highlanders hit a walk-off two-run home run by sophomore Paul Franzoni in the bottom of the ninth inning.
The Eagles got on the board in the top of the second inning after a single to left field by junior Nick Jones, which allowed senior John Rensel Jr. to score from third base, putting the Eagles up 1-0.
EMU was able to hold off the Highlanders for the first half of the game, thanks in large part to the starting pitching.
Right-handed pitcher Jackson Shaver got the starting nod for the game and made the most of it. He pitched four complete innings and allowed only three hits and no runs.
Freshman Tyler Koons replaced Shaver in the fifth inning, and that’s when the Highlanders’ offense got going. The first batter Koons faced, senior Justin Etts, hit a one-run home run. Koons then hit the next two batters, and allowed a three-run RBI by senior Michael Anastasia, to allow the Highlanders to go ahead 3-1 in the bottom of the fifth. Koons day was done after one inning.
The Eagles would not go down without a fight and would be given an opportunity to start the seventh inning.
In the top of the seventh, back-to-back errors by the Highlanders helped to get the offense moving by getting two men on base and in scoring position. Sophomore Shane Easter hit an RBI single to third base, and Hager would score next after another error by NJIT, tying the game at 3-3 at the end of the seventh inning.
Last season, Owings had multiple hits in 18 games. He picked up where he left off last season against the Highlanders, as he was the team leader in hits for the team with two. He accounted for a third of the Eagles’ total offensive production for the day, as EMU had six total hits.
The Eagles and Highlanders have only played each other one other time, that came during the 2016 season when EMU won 8-0.
Eastern Michigan’s next game will be the series finale on Sunday, Feb. 17, playing a CT matinee with NJIT.
Head coach Eric Roof and his players were not made available for comment after the game.