Senior right-hander suffers tough-luck loss in 3-1 defeat

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Strahlendorf allowed three runs in the Redhawk's first-game loss.

MURRAY, Ky. -- That Southeast Missouri State failed to sweep Saturday's doubleheader was no fault of senior Todd Strahlendorf.

Strahlendorf pitched arguably the best game of his two-year Southeast career.

It was Strahlendorf's misfortune to be matched against one of the Ohio Valley Conference's premier hurler.

Murray State junior left-hander Daniel Calhoun dominated Southeast with a complete-game two-hitter, which negated Strahlendorf's stellar performance during a 3-1 loss.

The Redhawks bounced back to claim the nightcap 9-6 -- both contests were seven-inning affairs -- and salvaged a win in the three-game series.

"Todd gave it his best," senior right fielder Tyrell Cummings said. "It's too bad we didn't get the win for him."

Strahlendorf, who carried a three-hit shutout and a 1-0 lead into the bottom of the sixth inning, was understandably disappointed after MSU reached him for three runs on four hits.

But Strahlendorf also was encouraged as he now seems to be all the way back from a groin injury that forced him to miss several weeks of the season and limited him to 15 2/3 innings before Saturday.

"Today's the best I've felt," Strahlendorf said. "Everything was going good."

Strahlendorf had his moments last year after transferring from Santa Rosa (Calif.) Junior College, going 4-3 with a 5.94 ERA.

Strahlendorf's junior season was highlighted by his performance in Southeast's final game, against Eastern Illinois in the championship round of the OVC tournament.

Although Southeast lost, Strahlendorf allowed just four hits and one earned run in 5 2/3 innings.

Strahlendorf (1-1) matched his career high by working 5 2/3 innings Saturday. He struck out four and walked one.

"It's the best I've done so far," Strahlendorf said. "Hopefully I can keep it up."

Southeast coach Mark Hogan sees no reason why Strahlendorf -- whose best pitch is a slider -- can't continue to flash that kind of form.

"He threw outstanding," Hogan said. "He's got that devastating slider. It's good, really good."

Strahlendorf was matched against one of the conference's premier pitchers for the second straight OVC series.

Last weekend it was Jacksonville State junior Ben Tootle, a likely first-round draft pick. Strahlendorf allowed one run through four innings before running into trouble in the fifth as he did not receive a decision.

Saturday it was Calhoun (7-1), who leads the OVC in wins and strikeouts while ranking second in ERA (1.83).

"I'm all for it," said Strahlendorf of facing the opposition's ace. "It gets me ready for the game."

Strahlendorf's own sixth-inning error cost him a chance to escape with much less damage.

After the first two batters singled, Strahlendorf appeared to have the runner picked off second. But his throw was wild, allowing both MSU players to move up a base.

"I should have made the throw," Strahlendorf said.

A sacrifice fly tied the contest. Strahlendorf retired the next batter, but allowed two straight run-scoring hits. Junior John Salazar came on to record the final out.

"We had the guy picked off," Hogan said. "Who knows what happens if we get him."

More offense by the Redhawks might have allowed Strahlendorf to squeeze by anyway.

But the impressive Calhoun wouldn't cooperate as he allowed just three baserunners -- on two singles and a walk -- and struck out six in his league-leading fifth complete game.

Southeast scored its only run in the second as senior first baseman Matt Wagner led off by drawing Calhoun's lone walk, was sacrificed to second by senior left fielder Justin Wheeler and came home on a single by Cummings.

The Redhawks' only other baserunner was sophomore third baseman Trenton Moses from Advance, who singled leading off the sixth. He was sacrificed to second but was stranded there.

"He was tough to pick up. He shut down our offense," Wheeler said of Calhoun. "You have to tip your hat to him."

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