Southeast Bitten by Bulldogs in Ninth, Eliminated from OVC Tournament
May 25, 2007
PADUCAH, Ky. - (Friday, May 25, 2007) The Southeast Missouri State Redhawks baseball season came to a close Friday at the hands of the Samford Bulldogs. Despite a gutsy start by freshman starter Josh Syberg, one of his best this season, the Redhawks struggled to score runs in the 5-1 loss in the elimination round of the 2007 O'Reilly OVC Baseball Championship at Brooks Stadium in Paducah, Ky.
Syberg, who hadn't pitched through five full innings in his previous five starts, worked a season-high eight plus innings on the mound. The All-OVC Freshman team selection retired the first seven Bulldogs batters he faced.
Samford starter Eric Lassiter also retired the first seven batters he faced, shutting the Redhawks out through the first three innings.
Southeast (32-24) gave Syberg a one-run lead in the bottom of the fourth. Senior Omar Padilla (Point Reyes Station, Calif./Santa Rosa CC) drew a one-out walk, and sophomore Matt Wagner (Wahoo, Neb./Nebraska) advanced him to third base with a single to right field. Designated hitter Matt Wulfers (Cape Girardeau, Mo./Missouri) drove in the run with a sacrifice fly to left field.
Making one of the best starts of his freshman campaign, Syberg kept the Bulldogs off the scoreboard through the first six innings. Samford (32-27) didn't score until the top of the seventh inning when they tied the game at one run apiece. The inning could have been even worse, but an outstanding defensive play by Syberg on a safety-squeeze bunt cut down another run at home as he flipped the ball to catcher Jim Klocke (St. Louis, Mo./Vianney HS).
Meanwhile, Samford reliever Doug Denson kept the Bulldogs in the game. Denson, who relieved Lassiter at the start of the fifth inning, did not give up a single run to Southeast through the end of the eighth inning to leave the door open for Samford.
Despite the outstanding pitching from Syberg, one run of support was just not enough for the Redhawks. After retiring the first batter in the top of the ninth inning, Syberg gave up back-to-back singles, which ended his day after eight and one-third innings.
Senior Josh Parham (Jackson, Mo./Fort Scott CC) came on but gave up base hits to each of the batters he faced, including a two-run triple to John Morgan that gave Samford the lead in the inning.
Morgan, who delivered the difference-making blow, led the Bulldogs with a 2-for-4 game at the plate, including a run scored and the two go-ahead RBIs.
Both runs that scored on the triple closed the book on Syberg's day. He was charged with three runs (three earned) through eight and one-third. The left-hander struck out three and walked only one batter; he was tagged as the losing pitcher in the game, falling to 4-4 on the season.
Denson (5-1) recorded the win in relief for the Bulldogs.
The Bulldogs sent two more runs across the plate before the inning was over, totaling four runs in the frame and taking the 5-1 lead that would end the game and eliminate the Redhawks from the tournament.
Freshman Nick Harris (Alabaster, Ala./Thompson HS), who had three at bats in the game, finished the season just one at bat shy of tying the single season record at Southeast. Harris finished the year with 228 at bats, tying Eric Horstman (2004) and Kyle Yount (1998) for third-most in SEMO baseball history.
Southeast ended the season with 32 wins overall, which ties for fourth most all-time. It is also the most wins by a Redhawks baseball team since 2002 when the squad tied a school record with 37. Southeast, despite two errors in Friday's game, also set a new school record with a .965 team fielding percentage this season; the Redhawks committed just 73 errors on the year.
Samford will advance in the tournament and will play Saturday at Noon against the loser of Friday evening's No. 1 Austin Peay and No. 2 Jacksonville State match-up.