By: Clark Shanahan
NORMAL,Illinois - The Knox Prairie Fire baseball team dropped their opening game of the season this Wednesday against the Eureka College Red Devils, losing by a final score of 7-1. While avoiding the shutout, the Prairie Fire offense struggled to find any momentum throughout the game.
Knox began the first inning with three consecutive strikeouts on offense, setting the tone in that front for the rest of the game. Jacob Ripple got the start for the Prairie Fire, lasting two innings while striking out one and giving up four runs, only one of which was earned. Done in by some tough breaks defensively, Ripple displayed good command and induced plenty of soft contact. Unfortunately, some lucky hits and blazing speed on the base paths for Eureka had him in tough positions often. Knox’s bullpen managed to have a mostly solid day in relief, allowing three runs the rest of the way but striking out Red Devil batters at a solid clip, as well.
Offensively, the Prairie Fire’s first hit came in the ninth inning, a one out single courtesy of Jason Clark. Knox batters then used their plate discipline to draw three walks in the inning, with the only Prairie Fire RBI of the day coming on a Nicholas Stan walk. Largely befuddled by the pitching of Nathan Garard, Knox’s offense was unable to muster anything else, leading to their defeat.
"We started off a little rough, but we got better as the game went on," said associate head coach James Clark. "We saw a lot of good things, especially in the second half of the game. We hit a lot of balls hard right at people and those balls will find holes as the season goes on."
The Prairie Fire will attempt to get their first win of the season when they travel to Rock Island next Wednesday to face Augustana College (IL).