Redhawks Sweep Doubleheader to Open Season
Feb. 17, 2007
JACKSON, Miss. - For the first time since 2001, the Southeast Missouri State baseball teams is 2-0 to begin the season. The Redhawks defeated the Jackson State Tigers 7-4 in game one before claiming the doubleheader sweep with a 2-0 victory in the nightcap.
The catalyst for Southeast in both games was the young group of newcomers on the squad. Both winning pitchers in the Saturday doubleheader are new to the Redhawks; Lance Rhodes (1-0) picked up the win in game one, and Josh Syberg (1-0) followed in game two. Meanwhile, third baseman Nick Harris and first baseman Matt Wagner also had impressive days to start their careers at Southeast.
Rhodes got the win in three and one-third relief innings of work after coming in for starter Ivan Nails in the fourth inning. The right-hander from Sikeston, Mo., inherited a 5-2 Redhawks lead thanks to a five-run explosion by the Redhawks in the top of the third.
Jackson State (0-6) climbed back into the game in the bottom of the fourth, cutting the deficit to just two runs. Nails got into some early trouble as right fielder Anthony McLin hit what appeared to be a solo home run on the first pitch of the inning. However, after the three-man umpiring crew had a conference to discuss the call, McLin's blast was ruled a double.
Eventually, two runs would score with Nails on the mound before Rhodes was brought in with the bases loaded and one out. Rhodes retired two consecutive outs to end the inning, allowing just one more Tiger runner to score on a ground ball to first base.
Southeast added additional runs in the fifth and ninth innings as they made the score 7-4. Senior southpaw Josh Parham recorded the save for the Redhawks in two innings of relief. He came on in relief of Michael Taylor in the bottom of the eighth with no outs and the bases loaded. Parham pitched the Redhawks out of the jam without allowing any runs and gave up just one run in the bottom of the ninth before closing it out for Southeast's first win of the season.
Freshman left-hander Josh Syberg received the nod in game two of the doubleheader, and he took full advantage of his first collegiate pitching opportunity.
The Redhawks posted both of their runs in the top of the fifth inning, and they were once again sparked by the freshman Harris. Harris, playing a couple of hours from his hometown of Alabaster, Ala., singled and stole second base after Padilla was called out for batter's interfence. Wagner singled in Harris for his third RBI on the day, and he eventually came around to score to give Southeast the 2-0 advantage.
With five inning of quality starting pitching under his belt, Syberg made way for left-handed senior Shah out of the bullpen. Shah mowed through the Jackson State batting order, allowing just one hit and striking out three as he earned his first career save.
Harris led the Southeast offensive attack all day, finishing the doubleheader 4-for-8 with a triple, two runs scored and three stolen bases.
Wagner, in game one, went 3-for-5 at the dish with two doubles, two runs scored and two RBIs.
Catcher Jamaal Thelwell led the way for Jackson State, recording a pair of hits in each game of the doubleheader.
Southeast, who swept the series from Jackson State at Capaha Field last season, has not started a season 3-0 since 2001 when they swept a three-game series from Iowa State to kickoff the year. The Redhawks will return to action at Smith-Wills Stadium in Jackson, Miss., tomorrow afternoon at 1 p.m. as they look for another series sweep over the Tigers and a 3-0 start to the 2007 campaign.