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23 May 2008

Top-seeded Jacksonville State Topped No. 6 SEMO in Tournament Play

Jacksonville State's Clay Whittemore scored the game-winning run on Brian Piazza's double in the bottom of the ninth against Southeast Missouri. Photo: Courtesy of Patrick Clark

- First baseman Brian Piazza’s two-run double delivered Jacksonville State a 7-6 victory against Southeast Missouri, Thursday night, in the 2008 Ohio Valley Conference Baseball Championship at Brooks Stadium.


Down 6-4 entering the bottom of the ninth, Jacksonville State (37-19) got a leadoff double from catcher Spencer Brandes to start the inning. After one out, second baseman Bert Smith singled to score a run. Then with two out, right fielder Clay Whittemore doubled down the left line, putting men at second and third for Piazza who slapped a pitch to the right center wall to end the game.


Southeast Missouri (24-25) was down 4-0 after four innings but rallied to score six unanswered runs to take the lead. First baseman Matt Wagner’s RBI single in the ninth gave the Redhawks a 5-4 lead and they added another run on a wild pitch to set up the decisive second half of the frame.


“We had to come back and fight from behind, and we did,” said Southeast Missouri head coach Mark Hogan. “We put them on the spot, they had to come back and fight from behind. That was one of the most fabulous games of college baseball that you could have had tonight.”


Jacksonville State closer Alex Jones (8-2) picked up the victory after allowing two runs on two hits over the final 1.1 innings.


"It felt good to come away with a win tonight,” said Jacksonville State head coach Jim Case. “There were so many small things that contributed to the win. Just looking at Bert (Smith) on first base there in the ninth. We had already shown that he was able to steal. That goes in their heads. Clay (Whittemore) was able to get the ball up down the line to move him to third and then Piazza gets the hit to win it. There are just so many things that go into winning the game.”


Whittemore and Brandes each had three hits to lead Jacksonville State’s 12-hit attack.


Southeast Missouri reliever Todd Strahlendorf (4-3) was tagged for the loss after allowing three runs on four hits in the final 1.1 innings.


Wagner led the Redhawks with a 2-for-5, three RBI performance as SEMO posted nine hits on the night.


Jacksonville State vs. Southeast Missouri State OVC Tournament Game Notes


- Clay Whittemore's two-out RBI single in the first inning extended his hitting streak to 14 games, one shy of his career long.

- Of Whittemore's 64 RBI this season, 37 have come with two outs.

- When JSU took a 1-0 lead in the first inning it marked the 27th time this season JSU has scored in its first at-bat. The Gamecocks are 18-9 when scoring in the first inning.

- Bert Smith stole his 69th career base in the first inning, moving him to within one of the school's all-time stolen base record

- Kyle McCreary's RBI double in the fourth inning extened his current hitting streak to a season-long four games and gave him his sixth multi-hit game of the season.

- Brian Piazza singled in the fourth to extend his current hitting streak to a season-long 14 games.

- Pitcher Ben Tootle's scoreless innings streak came to an end at 23.2 innings when SEMO scored two runs in the fifth inning.

- Jacksonville State scored three in the bottom of the ninth to earn its 25th come-from-behind win and its ninth walk-off win of the season.

- JSU extended its winning streak to 17 games, the second-longest in the nation behind LSU (18).

- JSU is 13-5 all-time in the OVC Tournament

- JSU's seven runs in tonight's game are the fewest it has scored in its first game of the tournament since joining the conference.

See 2008 All-OVC Baseball Team.

See Baseball News at OVC Web site:

Reprinted here in its entirety from OVC Baseball Report.

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