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Redhawks eliminated from OVC tournament
Southeast's year ended with a 7-5 loss to Morehead State.
PADUCAH, Ky. -- The last time Southeast Missouri State had lost its first two Ohio Valley Conference tournament games was 2005.
Morehead State eliminated Southeast from the tournament that year, and history repeated itself Thursday.
The fourth-seeded Redhawks became the first squad bounced from the six-team event, falling to the third-seeded Eagles 7-5 in 11 innings.
That came on the heels of Wednesday's 9-5 defeat at the hands of fifth-seeded Tennessee Tech.
So a season that began with so much promise for the Redhawks ended with a thud as they lost their final six games and nine of their last 10.
"It's hard for me to believe it's over that quick," said Southeast coach Mark Hogan, whose squad wound up 26-25 and finished fourth in the nine-team OVC during the regular season. "It's been an up-and-down year, mostly up until the last three weeks."
Morehead (20-31) improved to 4-0 against Southeast this year. That includes a three-game series sweep in Cape Girardeau last week to end the regular season.
"We had a real good start, and then we just fell off," senior right fielder Tyrell Cummings said. "I don't know what happened."
Southeast held an early 2-0 lead, but trailed 5-3 before scoring two runs in the bottom of the eighth inning to tie the score, The Redhawk outhit Morehead 15-6.
"That game was ours for the taking," junior catcher Jim Klocke said. "We obviously had high hopes coming into the tournament, but we win as a team and lose as a team."
Southeast certainly can't blame Corey Harness for being eliminated so early.
Harness, a sophomore, held Morehead's heavy-hitting attack in check most of the way as he pitched a career-high 7 2/3 innings.
Harness -- who had thrown just 22 innings entering the tournament -- allowed only two hits through seven innings, both homers during Morehead's three-run fifth that put the Eagles ahead 3-2.
A two-out, two-run single in the top of the eighth put Morehead up 5-3 and marked the end of the day for Harness, who gave up four hits. He struck out five, walked three and hit three batters.
"He threw about as well as he could," Hogan said.
Southeast pulled into a 5-5 tie with two runs in the bottom of the eighth and had a man thrown out at home to end the frame.
Cummings led off with a single and Klocke doubled. Senior first baseman Matt Wagner drove in Cummings with a ground out that pushed Klocke to third. Klocke came around on sophomore DH Louie Haseltine's single.
With two outs, freshman shortstop Kenton Parmley doubled into the left-field corner, but Morehead executed two perfect throws and Haseltine was ruled out at the plate in a bang-bang play.
"They made a great play," Hogan said.
The Redhawks had an opportunity to win the game in the 10th. Klocke led off with a single and was sacrificed to second by Wagner.
Haseltine was intentionally walked, before senior second baseman Tony Spencer was hit on the foot by a pitch. But the umpire ruled that Spencer made no attempt to avoid the pitch, keeping him at the plate. He then flew out.
Parmley grounded a single into left and Klocke was held at third as the left fielder came up with the ball quickly. But the throw home was well over the head of catcher Taylor Davis and appeared headed for the screen, so Klocke broke toward the plate. Pitcher Michael Bottoms, backing up the play, was able to leap and snare the ball before it hit the screen. It was apparent he would be able to beat Klocke to the plate, so Klocke tried to scramble back to third. Bottoms fired to third and Klocke was tagged out in another bang-bang play.
"They made some key plays down the stretch," Hogan said. "An inch either way, we win."
The Eagles finally broke through in the 11th off junior John Salazar, who recorded the final out in the eighth and then worked two straight scoreless innings without allowing a hit.
Salazar (3-5), who suffered the loss, retired the first two batters in the 11th, but No. 8 hitter Luke Bainer walked.
Travis Redmon lined a shot to right field and Cummings narrowly missed making a sliding catch. The ball bounced several feet behind Cummings, allowing Bainer to score the tie-breaking run on what was ruled a double for Redmon.
Leadoff batter J.D. Ashbrook followed with an RBI single.
Southeast went down in order in the bottom of the 11th.
"What more can you ask of the job Corey Harness and John Salazar did," Hogan said.
Parmley led Southeast's offense by going 4-for-5. Haseltine was 3-for-4.
Cummings, Klocke and sophomore third baseman Trenton Moses all added two hits. Moses had two RBIs.
"Our pitchers did great and we hit the ball well, we just didn't get the big hits," said Cummings, among eight Southeast seniors, including many of the squad's top players. "It's a tough way to end the season."