SEMO WINS OVC CHAMPIONSHIP, HEADS TO NCAA BASEBALL TOURNEY

Freshman right-hander Kyle Miller allowed just one run on two hits and notched a career-high 10 strikeouts in a complete game victory as top-seeded Southeast Missouri (30-20) beat second-seeded Murray State (33-25), 10-1, Sunday in the Ohio Valley Conference winner-take-all closing.

SEMO WINS OVC CHAMPIONSHIP, HEADS TO NCAA BASEBALL TOURNEY

SEMO won the OVC Tournament for the first time because 2016 and claimed its fourth OVC Championship crown in program history. The Redhawks also procured the league's automatic berth into the NCAA Championship and will make their fourth appearance in the 64-team area this season.

"I believed we had a fantastic club last year when we didn't get to finish our season due to COVID. I'm incredibly grateful for our seniors that came back and for our whole program to get to experience this. This team knows how to play and knows what it takes to win. It has been fun to see them win games this season."

This year's 64-team Division I Baseball Tournament bracket will be revealed through the NCAA Baseball Choice Show on Monday, May 31.

In his first career postseason start, Miller had his way with the Racers from start to finish. He retired 12 of their first 13 hitters he faced as MSU's only baserunner in that interval reached on an error. Miller maintained the Racers scoreless through six innings of no-hit baseball until Bryson Bloomer's leadoff triple in the seventh. He also sat down 12-straight MSU hitters before that hit.

Offensively, SEMO gave Miller a big lead to work with as it scored three runs in the next inning, two in the third and another five in the fourth.

After SEMO came up empty with the bases loaded and one out at the base of the first, the Redhawks took their first lead next inning.

Wade Stauss was hit by a pitch to begin the Redhawks at-bat in the second inning. Peyton Leeper and Connor Basler each singled with Basler's hit scoring Stauss for the first run of this game. Basler and Leeper moved into scoring position on a double slide and touched house on a two-out only by Tyler Wilber to give SEMO a 3-0 lead. Wilber went over 100 RBI in his profession with that base hit to left.

Andrew Keck was struck by a pitch, stole second and advanced to third on a groundout in the third inning.

SEMO continued to pour it when it loaded the bases for the next time at the bottom of the fourth. Jevon Mason ripped a double to left center and Wilber walked. With two outs, Keck was hit by a pitch to put Redhawks at every base. After Alex Crump dropped a foul ball for that which could have been the third out, SEMO forced him cover.

Andrews delivered a two-RBI single down the right field line to score both Wilber and Mason, and Stauss doubled home Keck. Sperling's second hit of the game, one to left, scored Stauss and Andrews to finish off the five-run inning which made the score 10-0 in favor of the Redhawks.

Miller improved to 4-2 this year following his performance. He allowed just one walk against the 31 hitters he faced, also. The beginning was Miller's fifth of the year and first since Mar. 27. He made 11 relief appearances before his postseason start now.

"The strategy was to maintain my fastball low all day and it worked," said Miller. "I could tell the whole team was confident in me and that helped me to be confident in myself. The goal was to finish it out and I was able to accomplish this."

SEMO pounded out 11 hits and tallied double-digit strikes for the 23rd time in 2021.

Eight of the nine Redhawk starters scored. Sperling submitted a career-high four RBI, as well.

Furthermore, Stauss has been named the tournament's Most Valuable Player. Stauss became SEMO's fourth MVP at OVC Tournament history joining Jeremy Johnson (1998), Clemente Bonilla (2002) and Joey Lucchesi (2016).

SEMO picked up its 30th win of the year marking the 14th time in program history where the Redhawks captured 30 or more victories. The 30 wins are also the most in a season with Sawyers at the helm.

The 2021 NCAA Division I Baseball Tournament will begin on Friday, June 4. The double-elimination tournament will conclude with the College World Series at TD Ameritrade Park in Omaha, Nebraska on June 19-30.

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