Southeast Missouri State baseball team climbs into tie for sixth place with 9-8 win vs. Murray State

Monday, May 14, 2012
Southeast Missouri State's Jesse Tierney is greeted by teammates after hitting a three-run homer against Murray State during the second inning Sunday, May 13, 2012 at Capaha Field. (Fred Lynch)

The Southeast Missouri State baseball team won its biggest game of the season so far.

Survived might have been a more appropriate term after the Redhawks posted their third Ohio Valley Conference series victory in four weeks.

The host Redhawks sent 14 batters to the plate during an eight-run second inning that built an 8-1 lead and held off a furious Murray State rally, winning 9-8 Sunday afternoon in a matchup of squads battling for one of the final OVC tournament berths.

"It was wild," Southeast senior first baseman Kody Campbell said. "We battled and stayed in the game. So did they. It's a big win."

Southeast (19-33, 10-14), which took two of three from the Thoroughbreds, is tied with Morehead State for sixth place in the 10-team OVC. Tennessee Tech is a half-game back after having Sunday's contest at Eastern Kentucky rained out.

Southeast Missouri State’s Jesse Tierney is congratulated by assistant coach Chris Cafalone after hitting a three-run homer against Murray State during the second inning Sunday at Capaha Field. (Fred Lynch)

The Redhawks and Morehead are tied for fifth for OVC tournament purposes because fifth-place SIU Edwardsville is not eligible for the event this season during its final year of the Division I reclassification process.

The top six finishers qualify for the tournament.

Southeast, Morehead and Tech are battling for the final two tourney berths. All three teams have three conference games remaining.

"It was a bizzarre game. It was pressure packed," said Southeast coach Mark Hogan, whose squad is 7-5 in its last four OVC series after going 3-9 in its first four conference sets. "I'm proud of them. We wouldn't have won this game earlier in the year. It was a great win for us."

Ninth-place MSU (22-30, 8-16), which saw its tournament hopes suffer a major blow, scored a first-inning run without the benefit of a hit.

Southeast Missouri State center fielder Andy Lennington catches a fly ball during the second inning.

Southeast then appeared to take control with its huge second inning that featured a home run, two doubles, four singles and three walks against three pitchers.

The uprising began when Campbell drew a one-out walk and true freshman DH Cody Spanberger singled.

Senior catcher Jesse Tierney then lined a ball over the right-field fence for a three-run homer.

It was the first home run for Tierney in a difficult season during which he has missed more than a month with a broken finger and about two weeks with mononucleosis.

"It felt great to finally get one with all that [injury and illness] stuff going on," said Tierney, who has one homer in each of his four Southeast campaigns. "I'm good for about one a year."

Senior second baseman Taylor Heon and senior shortstop Kenton Parmley walked.

Redshirt freshman right fielder Jason Blum followed with an RBI single and All-American senior third baseman Trenton Moses belted a two-RBI single.

With two outs, redshirt freshman center fielder Andy Lennington and Campbell produced RBI singles to complete the flurry.

"It looked like we might score 100 runs," Tierney said. "But their pitchers started making good pitches and they made great plays in the field."

The Thoroughbreds cut the deficit to 8-6 after 4 1/2 innings.

Parmley's ninth homer of the season, a solo blast to left field in the fifth inning, made it 9-6.

Southeast did not get a hit over the final four innings, and MSU pulled within 9-8 through 5 1/2 frames.

"They just kept battling back," Hogan said.

MSU would have come all the way back were it not for two defensive gems by Lennington in center field. The plays were part of a sixth consecutive errorless game by Southeast.

Lennington's diving catch ended a third-inning threat after MSU already had scored twice. His second diving catch to end the sixth inning saved two runs and the lead after the Thoroughbreds had already plated two.

"Both were big-league plays," Hogan said.

Southeast used some good luck after MSU threatened to go ahead with the bases loaded and two outs in the seventh inning. Jacob Rhodes' wicked line drive was hit right to Campbell at first base.

"We hit some balls this weekend that were right at people," Campbell said. "That's how baseball is. We got a big break there."

Senior left-hander Ryan Prickett, who escaped the seventh-inning jam, worked a perfect eighth inning and recorded two outs in the ninth.

Sophomore left-hander Christian Hull, Southeast's sixth and final pitcher, came on in the ninth with the tying run on second base and struck out Ty Stetson looking for his second save of the series and team-leading fourth of the season.

Prickett (2-1) notched the victory, allowing just one hit in three innings. He struck out four and walked two.

Junior college transfer Ryan Kendall, another left-hander, also recorded an out. Kendall, Prickett and Hull combined for 3 2/3 scoreless frames to finish the victory.

"What a job those guys did," Hogan said.

Southeast outhit MSU 13-9. Moses went 3 for 5. Blum, Lennington and Spanberger all added two hits.

Moses extended his hitting streak to 20 games. He has reached base safely in a school-record 72 consecutive contests. Neither the OVC nor NCAA keeps a record for that category.

Southeast juco transfer Dylan Lynn lasted just three innings as he was hurt by control issues for a second consecutive start. Lynn allowed five runs and four hits. He struck out one, walked three and hit two batters.

MSU second baseman Dylan Wheeler made three spectacular diving plays on ground balls, two that he turned into double plays. The Thoroughbreds also did not commit an error.

"There was incredible defense by everyone. It was impressive," Hogan said. "It took every play we had and great pitching at the end. We threw the kitchen sink at them, and we needed to."

Southeast ends the regular season with a three-game home series against SIU Edwardsville beginning at 6 p.m. Thursday.

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