Redhawks Succumb to Series Sweep at the Hands of Illinois State
March 11, 2007
CAPE GIRARDEAU, Mo. - (Sunday, March 11, 2007) For the second time during a three game series against Illinois State, it appeared that the Southeast Missouri State baseball team had just enough offense in the early stages of the game to fend off the Redbirds. Like Friday's game against the Redbirds, though, the early runs were not enough as the Redhawks saw a four-run lead slip away in a 5-4 loss.
Nick Harris led off the game with a double, his fourth of the year, and he scored on Omar Padilla's single up the middle. With one out, Dustin Pritchett made it an early three-run lead for Southeast with a two-run jack over the left field wall.
Southeast (7-6) had plenty of opportunities to increase its lead. In the fifth inning, the Redhawks managed to put just one run on the scoreboard despite loading the bases with no outs. The run scored thanks to a bases loaded walk.
The Redhawks left two more stranded in scoring position in the seventh inning after n Matt Wagner and Pritchett reached base on a single and a double with just one out. Over the course of the game, Southeast left nine runners on base, including six in scoring position.
Once again, just as in the Friday afternoon contest against Illinois State (6-6), Jim Sajewich was responsible for quieting the Redhawks offense that was so potent in the early going. With one out and the bases loaded in the bottom of the fifth, Sajewich came in from the bullpen and recorded a strikeout and a fly ball to left field to get the Redbirds out of the bases-loaded jam. He retired the side in the sixth and exited after two innings pitched, having allowed just two base hits and striking out a pair of batters.
Meanwhile, the Redbirds started to put runs on the board at the same time that the Southeast offense was being silenced.
SEMO starter Asif Shah retired the first six batters he faced and allowed just one hit through the first four innings, but he ran into his first bit of trouble in the fifth. He hit pinch hitter Nick Crist with one out and then allowed a pair of singles. He was able to come out of the inning unharmed though, as Kyle O'Brien, pinch running for Crist, was thrown out at the plate on a throw from right fielder Daryl Graham that was relayed to catcher Chad Mercado by Wagner.
The next two innings, however, Shah would not be so lucky. He allowed a run to score in the sixth, and two runs were charged to him in the seventh. Only one of the runs in the seventh were earned, though, as second baseman Padilla had had difficulty fielding a ground ball that allowed the batter to reach base.
Regardless, Shah had another effective outing on the mound, giving up three runs (two earned) in six and one-third innings. The senior from Cincinnati, Ohio, also struck out four batters and walked only two.
Southeast closer Ivan Nails entered the ballgame in relief of Shah in the seventh and appeared poised to earn his third save of the season with a 4-3 Redhawks lead in his hands. In the top of the ninth, Matt Bolt hit a two-run home run off of Nails (0-1) to give the Redbirds a one-run lead. It was Bolt's second home run of the series, with his first coming in the top of the ninth of Friday's contest.
The Redhawks still had a breath of life in their half of the ninth with the top of the order due up, just as they did in Friday's contest. Harris reached base as the game-tying run with a single to right center, and Padilla successfully advanced him into scoring position with a sacrifice bunt. Harris would not advance any further, becoming the sixth and final runner left stranded in scoring position by Southeast on the game.
O'Brien (1-0) earned the win for Illinois State after recording the save in game one of the series on Friday.
Harris and Pritchett each had a paid of hits in the Sunday afternoon affair.
Southeast will try to break its current three-game losing skid on Tuesday against the Bethel (Tenn.) College Wildcats. The Redhawks will host Bethel, an NAIA squad, at Capaha Field with first pitch set for 3 p.m.