SEMO baseball cruise past Lindenwood in front of record attendance crowd
The Redhawks defeated OVC rival Lindenwood Lions 10-2 at home on April 28 in the first of a three game series.
The Redhawks took the lead early in the second inning, after junior utility player Peyton Leeper tripled and scored off of a wild pitch.
In the third inning, the Redhawks extended their lead to three after senior outfielder Brett Garber batted in Leeper, then Sperling batted in Garber.
The game remained quiet up until the top of the sixth inning, when Lindenwood put two runs on the board through a wild pitch, and a sacrifice groundout, bringing the score to 3-2.
The Redhawks immediately bounced back, starting the bottom of the sixth with a double by junior infielder Lincoln Andrews, who was quickly batted in by Garber. The Redhawks then loaded the bases, and scored a run from walks, and brought in two more runs after freshman infielder Caleb Rodgers singled down the right field line.
The scoring did not stop in the bottom of the seventh, as junior outfielder Josh Cameron singled, then was driven in by Garber. Garber was the team's best hitter on the day, going 3-4 with three RBIs.
“I’ve been trying to keep it simple, I haven’t had a whole lot of success pretty much the entire year so I've just been trying to keep it simple and look for fastballs,” Garber said.
In the bottom of the eighth senior outfielder Javon Mason extended their lead even further, hitting a home run, his first hit of the game, extending the lead to nine.
“I just felt relief, I was on time to the heater, and luckily I got the one I was looking for and I could send it out the right field. I knew he was gonna throw a heater, so I figured if I saw it up, it would go,” Mason said.
Cameron brought in the last run of the game after hitting a triple, and finding home, bringing the final score to 11-2.
Senior pitcher Noah Niznik led the Redhawks on the defensive side, pitching all nine innings, only allowing four hits and two runs while racking up seven strikeouts.
“I was really just staying consistent with my tempo, being the same on every pitch no matter what’s called, and working all sides of the plate,” Niznik said.
Although Niznik threw 108 pitches over the course of the nine innings, he said his arm still felt great.
“I feel like I could go nine (innings) more honestly, you look at last week I only went five (innings) and threw 98 pitches, so to come back and do this was awesome,” Niznik said.
After a rocky start to the season, the Redhawks have made a full transformation, picking up their game both on offense and on defense in the pitching department.
“I can’t put a label or tell you exactly what they’ve done to get better other than try to get better each day. They’re playing the way we knew they could. We have good players, this is the team we thought we were gonna have, but sometimes, as my grandfather used to say, all the fruit doesn’t ripen at the same time, some take longer than others,” head coach Andy Sawyer said.
The Redhawks are more concerned about the next game in front of them rather than the standings.
“All we can do is play good baseball, and I think that if we take care of our business we’re gonna be fine,” Sawyer said.
“Honestly going into tomorrow, I’m just looking forward to the opportunity to win a series on saturday, especially playing at home, it feels good playing in front of the fans,” Garber said.
The fans also showed out as much as the Redhawks, setting a season high of 1,015 people in attendance, cheering loud, and creating a fun environment all game long.
“It’s awesome, it’s so much fun when there’s a good crowd like this at Capaha, this atmosphere and support is what makes Capaha so special,” Sawyer said.
“It’s kind of a testament to how much these people love baseball and SEMO, I really appreciate everyone who comes out, I know people’s names that come out here, it’s just a really cool environment, and I wouldn’t want to play anywhere else,” Garber said.