PADUCAH, Ky. -- Southeast Missouri State University coach Mark Hogan's decision not to start Ohio Valley Conference Pitcher of the Year Tim Alvarez in Wednesday's OVC Tournament opener will no doubt be questioned by some -- but not by Alvarez or other Indians.
Hogan elected to use hard-throwing right-hander Bill Clayton against Eastern Kentucky. Clayton had posted four straight victories and arguably had been Southeast's best pitcher over the past several weeks. But he was wild and lasted just three-plus innings during a 12-6 loss.
Alvarez, a submarine left-hander who has a 13-3 record, will instead try to keep the defending champion Indians' title hopes alive when he takes the mound today against Austin Peay in an 11 a.m. elimination game.
"It was absolutely the right decision. We just played horrible," Alvarez said. "I don't necessarily feel like I should have been the pitcher today. We just didn't execute. But I'm glad I'll have the ball tomorrow."
Said shortstop Zach Borowiak, "Bill had been throwing lights out. We had all the confidence in the world with him. Who knows, maybe come Saturday he'll get another shot."
If the Indians survive today and Friday, they would earn a spot in Saturday's championship round, where Clayton might very well get the call again.
"I'll try to come back and be ready," Clayton said.
Like Borowiak, third baseman Denver Stuckey had no problem with Southeast using Clayton.
"Bill was going to have to win a tournament game anyway," Stuckey said. "Eastern Kentucky has a lot of right-handed hitters and he's been pitching really good. Why not throw him?"
It's not like Hogan was trying to save his ace for a specific second-round foe. With no definite opponent set until later in the day, that really doesn't enter into the picture in a tournament like this. He and his assistants simply felt Clayton was the best pitcher to go against EKU's high-powered offense.
"Bill had good stuff, but he just got wild," Hogan said. "I don't regret not going with Tim. And now, it's nice we'll have him to try and stop the bleeding."
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