MURRAY, Ky. – Senior right-hander Matt Fyffe earned his Ohio Valley Conference-leading ninth win of the season and junior Austin Grisham went 3-for-4 with a pair of RBI and runs scored as the Eastern Kentucky University baseball team cruised past host Murray State, 9-2, on Friday afternoon in game two of this weekend’s decisive series at Reagan Field.
With the series win, EKU, which has won 13 of its last 15 games, improves to 30-21 (18-7 OVC) on the season and moves a half-game ahead of Austin Peay for first place in the OVC. APSU plays Tennessee Tech later tonight.
EKU’s win yesterday combined with losses by APSU and Jacksonville State clinched a first round bye for the Colonels in next week’s OVC Tournament. Those events also gave EKU control of its own destiny. If EKU finishes off the sweep of MSU on Saturday, the Colonels will at least earn a share of their first OVC regular season title since 2000.
The win also gives EKU its second 30-win season under fourth-year head coach Jason Stein, while the Colonels’ 18 conference victories ties are tied for the most in school history (The 2000 OVC regular season championship team went 18-6 in league play).
The loss, meanwhile, drops MSU to 23-32 (8-18 OVC) on the year.
Fyffe (9-0) maintained his perfect record on the spring, going six innings and allowing just one earned run on five hits while striking out three batters to keep his season ERA at a minuscule 1.51. Senior left-hander Greg Terry replaced Fyffe in the bottom of the seventh inning and held the Breds scoreless over the final three frames to earn his first save of the year.
Left-hander Bryan Babin (5-5) picked up the loss for MSU, working just two innings and surrendering five earned runs on six hits.
EKU took a quick 3-0 lead in the top of the first, scoring all three runs in that inning with two outs. After senior Richie Rodriguez and Grisham grounded out to open the game, senior Jacob Daniel laced a double into left field and then scored when sophomore Bryan Soloman crushed his team-leading 14th home run of the season over the wall in left field.
The rally continued when senior A.J. Jamison looped a double into right-center field and then came home on a base hit by senior Michael Garcia, making it 3-0.
MSU got one run back in the home half of the first, but the Colonels plated three more in the top of the second to take a comfortable 6-1 lead. Sophomore Sean Hagen led off that inning with a triple into right field and, after Rodriguez walked to put runners on the corners, Grisham laced a single through the right side of the infield that scored Hagen and advanced Rodriguez to third, where he scored on an error by MSU third baseman Travis Isaak. Grisham then advanced to third on a fly out by Soloman and scored when Jamison reached on another MSU error, this one by shortstop Noah Zipko.
The Breds pushed across another run in the bottom of the second, but EKU responded with two runs in the top of the fourth before a sacrifice fly to center field by Grisham in the top of the eighth scored junior Shaun Ball and made it 9-2.
MSU loaded the bases with one out in the bottom of the ninth, but Terry struck out Corey Bays and then got Ty Stetson to fly out to center field to end the game.
EKU will go for the series sweep and its first OVC regular season title since 2000 tomorrow at 2:00 p.m. Junior left-hander Shane Grimm, who is 4-0 in OVC play this season, will start on the mound for the Colonels.