That's baseball, the SEMO way

"That's baseball."

Coaches and players say it often, meaning on any given day, anything can happen.

We saw the axiom in action -- twice -- for the Southeast Missouri State University Redhawks at the Ohio Valley Conference baseball tournament in Jackson, Tennessee.

To open the tournament, the Redhawks sent their ace, Dylan Dodd, to the mound. Dodd, 2021 OVC pitcher of the year, has been a stalwart for the team throughout his career, and he's as good a pitcher as there is anywhere. Yet, on this day, he didn't have his best stuff and gave up nine hits and six earned runs in a non-Doddlike performance. The team came through, though.

And so it was on Sunday the Redhawks found themselves facing Murray State for the tournament championship -- and, more importantly, a berth in the NCAA national tournament.

Coach Andy Sawyers gave the ball to true freshman Kyle Miller.

How did the young man handle the challenge?

He tossed a complete game, giving up just two hits and one run to the league's most explosive offense. The complete game was the only one for a SEMO starter in the entire season.

For their part, SEMO batters took off some of the pressure on Miller, scoring 10 runs in three multirun innings.

"I've kind of run out of adjectives to talk about Kyle Miller," Sawyers, the 2021 OVC coach of the year, said in a postgame interview. "For a true freshman to go out there and go [a complete game] against the most powerful lineup there is, for him to shut them down like he did, that is a storybook outing. He's going to remember that outing for the rest of his life."

Miller passed his test with flying colors, as the Redhawks have this year. With a record of 30-20, they were the OVC regular season champs, and this NCAA berth is the program's fourth and first since 2016.

The team's reward for winning the championship is a trip to Oxford, Mississippi, to play in the regional hosted by hard-hitting Ole Miss. Florida State University and Southern Mississippi University round out the field.

Ole Miss and SEMO will square off at 7 p.m. Friday, and in these regional tournaments, anything can happen.

That's baseball.

Good luck, Redhawks!