JACKSON, Tenn. -- A walk-off hit in the ninth capped a brilliant pitching performance by Eastern Illinois starter Mike Hoekstra as the Panthers defeated Morehead State 2-1 Wednesday in game one of the Ohio Valley Conference baseball Tournament at Pringles Park.
Shortstop Ryan Dineen ended the Eagles' (28-26) hopes for a rally, firing a bases loaded hit into right field and driving in the winning run from third base in the ninth inning. Junior reliever Morgan Cirbo allowed a pair of walks to start the frame that put runners at first and second. Despite centerfielder Duran Elmore gunning down the first potential winning run at home, closer Matt Duncan then gave up the go-ahead run after issuing a walk to load the bases.
Dineen went 3-for-5 in the game and led the Panthers (27-27) with three singles.
Hoekstra earned the win, tossing a complete game two-hitter. The only blemish to Hoekstra’s masterpiece was an unearned run allowed in the top of the ninth. He fanned four, walked two and allowed just two hits.
The Eagles' only run came in the top of the ninth after trailing since EIU designated hitter Ben Thoma’s towering solo shot to left in the fourth. Second baseman Jeff Birkofer recorded MSU’s second hit of the game to lead off the frame. Pinch runner Bud Morton advanced to second on a sacrifice and came home on a dropped third out by second baseman Nathan Sopena.
Junior shortstop Chase Greenwell collected MSU's only other hit in the contest as he singled in the second inning.
Cirbo took the loss, his third of the season.
MSU will face the loser of tonight's contest between No. 3 Jacksonville State and No. 6 Southeast Missoui Thursday at noon ET.