RICHMOND, Ky. – The 2019 season starts Friday for the Eastern Kentucky University baseball team against Grambling at the Andre Dawson Classic in New Orleans.
Friday’s season-opener is scheduled to begin at 5 p.m. ET. EKU’s game against Florida A&M on Saturday will air live on the MLB Network and MLB.com at 8 p.m. ET.
Eastern will wrap up play on Sunday against Prairie View A&M at 12 p.m. ET. All three of EKU’s games will be played at Wesley Barrow Stadium at the New Orleans MLB Youth Academy. Maestri Field, the home of the University of New Orleans baseball team will also host games.
The event was designed to highlight baseball programs at Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs). This is the 12th year the Classic has been held. This year’s line-up features seven HBCU teams, the most in the event’s history. The event is named for the Chicago Cubs and Montreal Expos legend who is one of only two HBCU alumni enshrined in the Baseball Hall of Fame. Other participating teams include – Alcorn State, Alabama State, Arkansas Pine Bluff and Southern.
Head Coach Edwin Thompson welcomes back five position starters and 10 pitchers from last season’s team that beat two top-15 ranked teams, won 30 games, finished five spots higher in the Ohio Valley Conference than predicted and advanced to the final three in the conference tournament.
Junior outfielder Nick Howie and redshirt junior right-hander Aaron Ochsenbein were chosen to the 2019 Preseason All-OVC team and the Colonels were picked to finish in sixth place in the league standings this season.
The returning starters are Daniel Harris IV (2B), Ryland Kerr (SS), Will Johnson (LF), Chris Botsoe (CF) and Howie (RF). Harris IV hit .268 and was chosen as a Freshman All-American last year. Kerr hit .325, with six home runs and 34 RBIs, and was named to the Brooks Wallace Award Watch List. Johnson hit .322 with 43 runs and 36 driven in. Botsoe scored 33 runs with 32 driven in. Howie batted .333 with 10 home runs, 50 RBIs and 43 runs scored.
Ochsenbein is on the NCBWA Stopper of the Year watch list after saving nine games and striking out 71 batters in 51 and two-thirds innings a year ago. EKU has two weekend starters back in senior right-handers Logan Teague and Kaven Brown. Teague went 6-6 in 2018 while Brown had a 4-2 record.
Teague will toe the rubber for the season-opener on Friday against Grambling. Brown will start against Florida A&M on Saturday. Newcomer Brennan Kelly, a junior left-hander, will get the nod on Sunday against Prairie View A&M.
While Thompson is back for his fourth season as head coach, his staff will look a bit different in 2019. After serving as EKU’s volunteer assistant coach last season, Julius McDougal will be a full time assistant and recruiting coordinator. Shaun Cole, who has served as the coordinator of player development with the San Diego Padres and the pitching coach at the University of Arizona, is Eastern’s new pitching coach. Jayson Langfels, a former EKU All-American and 2010 draft pick by the Rockies, rejoined the program as a volunteer assistant.
Grambling had a 26-26 record in 2018 and went 14-10 in the Southwestern Athletic Conference (SWAC). Florida A&M went 25-30 overall and 15-9 in the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference (MEAC). Prairie View A&M was 14-40 in 2018 with an 8-16 mark in the SWAC.