Behind seven strong innings from starting pitcher Aaron Leasher and home runs by sophomores Hunter Fain and Niko Hulsizer, the Morehead State baseball team opened the 2017 season with a 5-2 neutral-site victory over Jacksonville at Jackson State's Bob Braddy Field.
"We played well in all three phases of the game," said head coach Mike McGuire. "I was really proud of our effort tonight."
Leasher, a junior left-hander, struck out six and surrendered only three hits in moving to 1-0. Senior lefty Cable Wright nailed down the final six outs, including three strikeouts, for his first save of 2017.
"What a great game by Leasher," McGuire added. "I was really hoping for six from him and he gave us an extra inning. He pitched great, and the big thing was he kept his pitch count down."
Fain, batting second in the order, cranked a monster solo home run in his first at-bat and finished the day 2-for-5. Hulsizer led the offense by going 4-for-5 and smashing a solo shot to left field in the seventh frame.
Morehead State, which had 32 games of 10 or more hits in 2016, was right back at it this year with 13 hits. Besides Fain and Hulsizer's multi-hit efforts, senior right-fielder Will Schneider and sophomore shortstop Reid Leonard each had two hits apiece.
Leasher did not allow a hit until a one-out single by JU in the fifth and was perfect through three.
The Eagles chased Dolphin starter Michael Baumann from the game after just 4.2 innings. He gave up seven hits and three earned runs.
"We'll be hard-pressed to see an arm as good as what we saw tonight in Baumann," said McGuire. "He'll be a pretty high draft pick. But we kept grinding and having good at bats."
Morehead State plays twice on Saturday, facing host Jackson State at 1 p.m. ET and another matchup with Jacksonville at 7:30 p.m.