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No-hitter keeps Indians in the OVC hunt

Friday, May 23, 2003

PADUCAH, Ky. -- Tim Alvarez once pitched a five-inning no-hitter in high school.

That pales in comparison to what he accomplished Thursday.

Alvarez, Southeast Missouri State University's senior left-hander, threw the first no-hitter in Ohio Valley Conference Tournament history as the second-seeded Indians remained alive in the double-elimination event by beating top-seeded Austin Peay 4-0.

Southeast, which was upset by fifth-seeded Eastern Kentucky in Wednesday's first round, plays fourth-seeded Murray State at 11 a.m. today. A win would advance the Indians to a 7 p.m. game tonight, and Southeast still would need two victories Saturday to claim its second straight OVC Tournament title.

But before the Indians (31-19) began to focus on the rest of the tournament, they turned their full attention to the incredible performance by the OVC Pitcher of the Year.

"I'm speechless," Southeast coach Mark Hogan said. "I have no words to describe what I just saw. That was the best single performance I've ever seen.

"I think Tim has signed, sealed and delivered his All-America trophy with today's performance."

Alvarez (14-3) already owns the school single-season record for wins, and he leads the nation in that category. His 2.74 earned-run average is first in the OVC, as are his three shutouts and six complete games.

But Thursday easily surpassed any previous Alvarez outing. He struck out nine, walked four and hit two batters. One other base runner reached on a catcher's interference error. In five of the nine innings, the Governors (27-27-1) were retired in order. They never got a runner past second base. And they never -- believe it or not -- hit a ball really hard.

"I couldn't have picked a better spot to throw a no-hitter," Alvarez said. "I'm glad it happened this way in this kind of situation where we really needed a win."

Alvarez, who doesn't throw hard but uses a seldom-seen submarine delivery and keeps hitters off balance, said he tried not to think about what was in the works, although he couldn't help himself by the late innings.

"Probably in the eighth inning I started getting butterflies," he said.

Baseball tradition dictates that there is never a mention in the dugout of a potential no-hitter in progress, but Alvarez said that wasn't entirely true Thursday.

"Actually, one of the trainer girls did it," he said, laughing. "I was kidding around in about the seventh inning, and I told her to tell coach I can't go anymore. She said 'but you have a no-hitter.'"

Asked what making history means to him, Alvarez said, "It will mean more when I'm older, something to tell my kids and grandkids about. Right now, we just want to win games in the tournament."

The only time Austin Peay came close to a hit was in the first inning when Chris Hyde blooped a fly ball to short center field. Center fielder Seth Moulton initially broke back and probably had no play, but shortstop Zach Borowiak made a back-to-the infield catch.

"I saw that Seth broke back and knew I had to get there," Borowiak said. "You would have never thought at the time that it might help save a no-hitter."

Said third baseman Denver Stuckey of Alvarez, "That's one of the best clutch performances I've ever seen."

Added designated hitter Dave Lawson, "It's really exciting. You couldn't talk about it as it was going on, but I'm glad to be part of a no-hitter for the first time."

Austin Peay's Dustin Smith, a hard-throwing right-hander, was solid, but Southeast touched him for 10 hits, led by two each from Stuckey, Lawson and Gary Gilbert. The OVC regular-season champion Govs were bounced from the tournament in two games.

The Indians broke on top in the bottom of the second inning. Borowiak led off with a single, moved to third on Justin Christian's single and scored when Tristen McDonald hit into a double play.

In the fourth, with two outs, McDonald singled and Lawson delivered an RBI double to make it 2-0.

Southeast finished the scoring with a two-run fifth. Aaron Fangman singled, Stuckey drilled an RBI double, moved to third on the throw and scored on Gilbert's sacrifice fly.

"It was a tough game," Lawson said. "Smith pitched real well, too. We didn't hit exceptionally well but we got just enough hits."

Now the Indians will turn their attention to attempting a remarkable climb from the loser's bracket. When they lost their second tournament game last year, it took three consecutive victories to claim the title. This time, a championship will require five straight wins, but at least Alvarez got the ball rolling in a big way.

"I said after we lost our first game, if there is a team in the tournament that can win five games in a row, it's us," Stuckey said.

Hogan said left-hander Jon Nourie will likely start today's 11 a.m. game, but if the Indians advance the rotation is up in the air after that.

mmishow@semissourian.com

335-6611, extension 132


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