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Dustin Renfrow celebrates the win over regular season champion Jacksonville State on Saturday. He picked up a save in the contest.
 
Dustin Renfrow celebrates the win over regular season champion Jacksonville State on Saturday. He picked up a save in the contest.
 
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Redhawks Advance to Championship Round With Win Over Jacksonville State

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May 24, 2008

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PADUCAH, Ky. - Pitching, defense and Matt Wagner continued to highlight the Redhawks run toward a 2008 OVC Baseball Tournament championship in a 6-4 win over the regular season champion Jacksonville State Gamecocks on Saturday afternoon at Brooks Stadium in Paducah, Ky.

Southeast (26-25) avenged a heart-breaking, come-from-behind loss to the Gamecocks in the second round of the tournament by eliminating No. 1 Jacksonville State, which lost Friday evening to No. 4 Eastern Illinois in the winner's bracket final.

In the Noon elimination game, the Redhawks wasted no time jumping on Gamecocks starting pitcher Nick Hetland, who threw six and one-third innings of two-hit, shutout baseball in game one of the regular season series at Jacksonville State. After Justin Wheeler and Jim Klocke hit consecutive one-out singles, All-OVC First Team first baseman Matt Wagner continued his excellent tournament with a three-run tater over the wall in right centerfield.  

The home run was the first for Southeast in Paducah, which entered the tournament leading the OVC in home runs.

It would not be the last, as Wagner hit another home run later in the game. The left-handed swinging first baseman's second home run of the day was a majestic, towering two-run home run in the fifth inning that gave Southeast a 5-0 lead.

The Redhawks led by five after Wagner's second homer thanks to some outstanding pitching by starter Josh Syberg and the defense behind him.

Syberg, entering the game without a win, tossed five consecutive shutout innings against the league's top-scoring offense. The sophomore southpaw struck out three Gamecocks in the first three innings, and the regular season champions never threatened to score until the fourth inning.

With the bases loaded and two outs in the top of the inning, Jacksonville State catcher Spencer Brandes drove a deep line drive toward the wall in the left field. However, the Southeast defense, which has not committed an error in 58 consecutive innings, shined behind Syberg. Left fielder Wheeler raced to the warning track in deep left field and made a leaping back-handed catch as he crashed into the concrete wall, saving three runs from crossing the plate.

After the threat in the fourth, Syberg threw a scoreless fifth before the Gamecocks got on the board on a Daniel Adamson solo home run to left field.

Trailing, 5-1 the relentless Jacksonville State offense threatened again in the top of the seventh after a single and a double to start the inning against Syberg and force him out of the game.

Ryan Poole entered in relief, and after hitting the first batter he faced to load the bases with no outs, Jacksonville State chipped away three runs to cut the Redhawks' lead to 5-4.

Syberg ended the day with six innings pitched and three runs allowed on seven hits. The former OVC All-Freshman Team selection struck out four and walked two as he picked up his first win of the season.

Poole paved the way for the Redhawks victory with a scoreless eighth inning after entering in relief of Syberg, and the Redhawks added an insurance run in bottom of the seventh when Nick Harris delivered an RBI single.

In the ninth inning, opening-round starting pitcher Dustin Renfrow entered to close the game. The senior right-hander mowed through the top three batters in the Gamecocks lineup, including strikeouts of OVC Rookie of the Year Todd Cunningham and All-OVC First Team second baseman Bert Smith. It was Renfrow's first career save.

The Redhawks become the first No. 6 seed to advance to the championship round of the tournament since the six-team format began in 1997. They play the Eastern Illinois Panthers Saturday at 3:30 p.m. If they defeat the Panthers, Southeast will play for the 2008 tournament championship on Sunday at Noon.

 
 

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