Redhawks Drop Opener at Arkansas-Pine Bluff, 4-2
Feb. 22, 2008
By Tyler Koonce, Baseball Contact
PINE BLUFF, Ark. - Southeast Missouri State was defeated 4-2 by Arkansas-Pine Bluff in the 2008 season opener at Taylor Memorial Field. The Redhawks (0-1, 0-0) struggled at the plate with only three base hits on the night. Pine Bluff used a two-run bottom of the seventh inning to take the lead. The Golden Lions (1-0, 0-0) got strong pitching performances from starter Justin Moring and reliever Daniel Gathright.
Southeast got out to an early lead in the top of the second inning on an RBI double down the left field line from redshirt senior Sean Zollner (Sparta, Ill./Sparta) to score Tyrell Cummings (Muskogee, Okla./Seminole State JC), who had reached on an error.
Sophomore left-hander Josh Syberg (St. Louis, Mo./St. John Vianney) got the start for the Redhawks and pitched out of a jam in the bottom of the first. After a leadoff single by Reggie Barker, Jerome McCollum drew a walk. Syberg then struck out Matt Pace and picked off Barker, who bit on his move and was thrown out trying to swipe third base. He finished the inning by sending Zac Varnell down swinging.
Syberg held UAPB scoreless until the bottom of the fourth when Varnell scored an unearned run on a two-out grounder by Marcus Rodgers that took a late hop past shortstop Nick Harris (Alabaster, Ala./Thompson) for an error.
The Redhawks regained the lead in the top of the fifth after Harris singled to right field and advanced to third when UAPB pitcher Moring threw the ball away on a pick-off attempt at first. Zachary Blemker (Vincennes, Ind./Vincennes CC) drove Harris in with a sacrifice fly to right.
In five innings pitched, Syberg allowed one hit and the unearned run while striking out nine and walking two. He was relieved by ace Dustin Renfrow (West Plains, Mo./Jefferson CC) for the sixth inning.
Renfrow surrendered a leadoff double by Pace to the right-center field gap. Pace advanced to third on a wild pitch before Varnell drew a walk. With runners on the corners, Varnell stole second prior to pinch hitter Frank Box striking out swinging. Rodgers followed with an RBI groundout to tie the game at two apiece. Renfrow responded and sent Ernest Horton down on strikes to end the inning.
Ivan Nails (Horn Lake, Miss./Southwest Tennessee CC) came on in relief in the seventh and ran into trouble, giving up a leadoff double to right-center by Rashaad Billingsley. Jeremy Davis followed with a picture perfect bunt single before Jim Klocke (St. Louis, Mo./St. John Vianney) threw out Billingsley at third on a bunt by Barker. After a wild pitch allowed Davis and Barker to advance to second and third, McCollum delivered a go-ahead single through the right side to score Davis and put UAPB up 3-2. Pace followed with an RBI groundout to shortstop to score Barker and increase the lead to 4-2.
Pine Bluff reliever Gathright made the lead stand up as he earned the save by pitching three hitless innings with one walk and strikeout. Golden Lions starter Moring threw six innings, yielding only three hits and two unearned runs while striking out four.
Harris suffered a right knee injury as he tried to leg out his ground ball to third in the top of the ninth. After athletic trainer Chris McAndrew examined him, he had to be helped off the field.
The teams continue with game two of the three-game set a 1 p.m. tomorrow at Taylor Field. James Leigh (Bryant, Ark./Texarkana CC) will make the start for Southeast.