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Austin Peay clinches OVC baseball crown against Southeast Missouri State
Austin Peay won the OVC regular-season crown with a 7-5 victory
Austin Peay won the Ohio Valley Conference regular-season baseball title Sunday at Southeast Missouri State's expense.
The Governors clinched the championship by beating Southeast 7-5 as they took two of three during the weekend series in Clarksville, Tenn.
Austin Peay improved to 27-21 overall and 15-5 in OVC play. The Govs have won nine of their last 10 league games.
"I want to congratulate Austin Peay," Southeast coach Mark Hogan said of a squad that was picked just seventh in the OVC preseason poll after missing the conference tournament the past two seasons. "They did a great job this weekend. They've done a great job all year."
The Redhawks (29-19, 11-8) remained second in the nine-team OVC but lead third-place Jacksonville State by just a half-game with three conference contests remaining.
Finishing at least second is important. The top two finishers earn byes for the first round of the six-team conference tournament, which sends its winner to the NCAA tournament.
"There's a lot of baseball left to be played," said Hogan, whose squad has clinched its league-record 17th straight OVC tournament berth. "It's [finishing second] in our hands if we take care of business."
Austin Peay took a 1-0 lead with an unearned run in the first inning.
Southeast tied it in the third inning without the benefit of a hit. Three walks were followed by senior Tim Rupp's sacrifice fly.
The Redhawks went ahead 3-1 in the fourth inning on three hits. Senior Casey Jones had an RBI single and another run scored on a double play.
Senior Brad LaBruyere carried a three-hitter and a 3-1 lead into the sixth inning before running into trouble,
John Hogan's three-run homer, which came after two singles, put the Govs up 4-3. It was the 10th home run of the season and second of the series for Hogan, who leads the OVC with 51 RBIs.
"You have to give them credit. They hit the ball out of the park to go ahead," coach Hogan said.
The Govs had another three-run inning in the seventh, making it 7-3.
But the Redhawks didn't go down quietly as they staged a major ninth-inning threat.
Junior Trenton Moses walked, Jones singled and senior Blake Slattery singled to load the bases with nobody out.
A double play brought in a run but appeared to kill the rally. However, Southeast still had some life.
Senior Louie Haseltine walked, a run scored on a wild pitch to make it 7-5 and junior Kody Campbell's pinch-hit infield single put men on first and third.
Redshirt freshman pinch-runner Cole Bieser stole second, moving Southeast within a single of tying the contest. But junior Kenton Parmley struck out.
"We had a lot of guys come up big," Hogan said of the final inning. "They didn't want to go down."
LaBruyere suffered just his second loss of the season as he fell to 7-2. He was charged with seven runs, six earned, on eight hits in 6 1/3 innings. He struck out two and walked one.
Freshman left-hander Christian Hull, Southeast's third and final pitcher, worked a scoreless 1 1/3 innings, allowing one hit.
Southeast had eight hits. Jones went 3 for 3.
Seniors Brett Russell and Nick Harris, who lead the team in batting average in conference games, did not play. Russell (.412) missed the entire series with a wrist injury, while Harris (.400) suffered a knee injury in the last inning of Saturday's doubleheader.
Southeast has its final nonconference contest Tuesday, visiting Mississippi of the Southeastern Conference at 6:30 p.m.
The Redhawks end the regular season Friday and Saturday with a three-game home OVC series against Eastern Illinois.