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SEMO plays Arkansas May in NCAA Baseball Regionals – KBSI Fox 23 Cape Girardeau News

playing baseball in grass (Source: Pexels/Steshka Willems)
(Source: Pexels/Steshka Willems)

FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. (KBSI) – The #4 Southeast Missouri baseball team will compete in the 2024 NCAA Baseball Regionals in Fayetteville, Ark., beginning Friday, May 31 at Arkansas.

First pitch is scheduled for 2 p.m. at Baum-Walker Stadium.

The SEMO Redhakws (#4) will take on the fifth overall seed in the tournament field, Arkansas.

Fan can listen live on the radio on ESPN 1220 AM and 93.5 FM. Erik Sean will call the action. Live stats are available at SEMORedhawks.com. Twitter updates are provided @SEMObaseball.

The Redhawks won the 2024 Ohio Valley Conference Baseball Championship. The team enters the Fayetteville regional as the No. 4 seed in the group. The team will join #1 Arkansas of the Southeastern Conference (SEC), #2 Louisiana Tech of Conference-USA (CUSA) and #3 Kansas State of the Big 12 Conference. #2 LA Tech and #3 Kansas State will face off after the Redhawks matchup with Arkansas at 7 p.m.

The 2024 Southeast Missouri Baseball program won its sixth Ohio Valley Conference Championship title on Saturday, May 25, with a 9-6 victory over #3 Morehead State, earning the conference an automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament.

The Redhawks defeated MSU in the Redhawks’ first game of the tournament by a final score of 9-4. Caleb Corbin, Shea McGahan and Ian Riley all finished with multiple RBI days in the first game.

The next day, the #4 seed Southern Indiana Screaming Eagles played the Redhawks.

They won 11-5 with 13 hits led by Coloma, who finished 3-for-5 at the plate, including four RBIs and his second home run in two days. All-OVC selection Brooks Kettering provided the Redhawks with four more RBIs on his 2-for-3 day at the plate, including a pair of home runs and three runs scored. Four different Redhawks posted multi-hit days, pushing SEMO into the championship round without a loss.

The Redhawks faced Morehead State again on Saturday, but faced some adversity. A seven-run ninth inning by MSU forced the OVC Championship into a title-deciding finale as the Eagles won the first game on Saturday by a final score of 13-6.

RHP Sam Heyman made his first appearance in the tournament. The sophomore threw 6.0 innings and allowed just four runs on five hits. He struck out five Eagles and left the game with the Redhawks ahead, 9-2.

Senior shortstop Ben Palmer went 2-for-5 at the plate with three RBIs, including a home run in the first inning that set up a big night for the program.

RHP Payton Lawrence replaced Haden Dow (who replaced Heyman). The Dixon, Illinois native pitched the final 3.0 innings of the championship, allowing no runs on just one hit and striking out four. He picked up his first save of the season and took the sixth OVC Championship title in SEMO history.

Seven Redhawks were named to the 2024 All-Ohio Valley Conference Tournament Team this past weekend. Seniors Ian Riley, Josh Cameron, Collin Wilma and Payton Lawrence were all selected. Freshman Brooks Kettering and junior Keoni Coloma rounded out the team for the Redhawks. Coloma was selected as the tournament’s MVP when he hit almost .500 with two home runs and six RBIs.

The championship is Head Coach Andy Sawyers’ third in the past four seasons.

Coach Sawyer’s OVC tournament record improved to 11-8 all-time and was the first title captured at Mtn. Dew Park in Marion, Illinois.

SEMO has won six OVC tournament titles and all but one have appeared in the same year on the calendar. The only title achieved in a strange year was the 2021 tournament title, led by head coach Andy Sawyers. The Redhawks have now won the title in 1998, 2002, 2016, 2021, 2022 and 2024.

SEMO last appeared in the NCAA Tournament in Louisville, Kentucky in 2022. They played the #7 National Seed, Louisville, in their first match of that region. The Cardinals defeated SEMO 7-2 in the first game. The Redhawks lost to Oregon (18-6) the next day.

The Fayetteville regional will mark the Redhawks’ third regional appearance in the Sawyers era dating back to 2021. SEMO has competed in Oxford, Mississippi, Louisville, Ky., and now Fayetteville, Ark. This will mark the second Southeastern Conference location as Arkansas is a member of the SEC.

The Redhawks finished the regular season with the OVC’s best defense. SEMO finished one point above Morehead State (.971) with a team fielding percentage of .972. First baseman Bryce Cannon finished conference play with a perfect fielding percentage of 1.000 to lead the team. Nine Redhawks finished above the minimum number of games and recorded a fielding percentage of .970 or better.

Outfielder Ty Stauss finished the season as the Redhawks top hitter with a .324 batting average. Stauss finished with 61 hits and led the team in doubles (16) and on-base percentage (.434).

Short stop Ben Palmer finished the regular season as team leader in two conflicting categories. The senior from Fridley, Minn. Leads the Redhawks in both home runs (17) and sacrifice bunts (16). He also now ranks second on the team in walks (37) and first in hit-by-pitch (12).

Midfielder Michael Mugan, who played in 54 of 55 games for the Redhawks, finished the season with a team-best 73 goals. The junior currently ranks first on the team with a .322 batting average and is third in total bases with 117.

The Redhawks pitching staff finished the 2024 regular season campaign strong, especially the final month of the season. As a group, SEMO finished with an ERA of 5.65 over 477.2 innings. LP Haden Dow led the staff with 57 total strikeouts and a 4-1 record. Dow finished with an ERA of 4.54 over 73.1 innings pitched. Opponents hit just .261 against the southpaw in 2024. LHP Logan Katen and RHP Kyle Miller played big roles in the second half of the games. Katen finished with an ERA of 3.60 over 30.0 innings and struckout 32 batters. For Miller, he recorded 29 strikeouts in 24.0 innings, missing an entire month of the season as opponents hit just .195 against him.

#1 Arkansas
The Razorbacks enter their home region as the fifth national seed in the 2024 NCAA Tournament. Arkansas is led by 22nd year Head Coach Dave Van Horn and finished the season with an overall record of 43-14 and a record of 20-10 in SEC play. At the plate, Arkansas is led by Peyton Stovall, who has a .349 batting average this season. He has nine home runs, 38 RBIs, 12 doubles and has a slugging percentage of .559. The Hogs home run leader is shortstop Aloy Wehiwa, who has started and played all 57 games for Van Horn. Wehiwa has 13 home runs to his name this season. On the mound, Arkansas LHP Hagen Smith is the top arm for the Razorbacks. Smith has a 1.48 ERA with an overall record of 9-1. He struckout 154 batters in 79.0 innings pitched.

#2 Louisiana Technology
The Conference USA Bulldogs are led by eight-year head coach Lane Burroughs and enter the region as the No. 2 seed in Fayetteville. The Bulldogs finished the season 45-17 overall with an 18-6 mark in CUSA play. Cole McConnell leads the Bulldogs’ offense with a .380 batting average and a .682 slugging percentage. He ranks first on the team in hits (92), home runs (18) and total bases (165). Ethan Bates is the RBI leader with 74 this season. He is also team leader in doubles (21) and triples (2). The Bulldogs’ top arm is Luke Nichols. Nichols has an ERA of 3.74 (Team-Best), with an overall record of 7-3 on the season. He has a team-high 81 strikeouts in 77.0 innings pitched.

#3 Kansas State
Kansas State comes to Fayetteville as the number three team in the region is led by sixth-year head coach Pete Hughes. The Wildcats finished the season with a 32-24 overall record and a 15-15 mark in Big 12 play. Brady Day leads KSU at the plate with a .332 batting average. He is tied for the most hits on the team (71), first in RBIs (53), second in doubles (15) and second in total bases (114). Kaelen Culpepper provides the power for the Wildcats’ lineup, leading the team in home runs (9), tied for the day for hits (71), first in triples (5), and first in slugging percentage (.533). On the mound, Jackson Wentworth is KSU’s top arm with a 4.18 ERA. He has an overall record of 4-5 with six saves out of the bullpen. Opponents are hitting just .215 against him this season.

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