Ryan Losman gets first start, leads Southeast Missouri State baseball past Saint Louis
Readiness wasn't an option for Ryan Losman as he took the mound Tuesday at Capaha Field for his first start in a Southeast Missouri State baseball uniform.
After Saint Louis' Parker Sniatynski sent Losman's first delivery of the game off the scoreboard in left field for a solo home run, the junior right-handed pitcher instead turned to steadiness.
Losman settled in and threw five solid innings to secure his first pitching win as a Redhawk, as SEMO's offense took care of the rest in a 13-2 victory over the Billikens.
"I've been working, and I feel like I've been getting better every time I've been going out there," said Losman, whose in his first season at Southeast after transferring from Glendale Community College in California. "I've been coming out of the bullpen, and I just feel very confident. When they told me I had the ball on Tuesday, I was just like, 'All right, game on. Let's go for it.'
"To be able to do it, it just kind of lets me know I can do it."
Losman (1-1) allowed just one run on three hits after being lifted to start the sixth inning. He fanned seven batters and walked one while facing the minimum in three of his five innings on the mound, including a 1-2-3 fifth in which he struck out the side.
"I thought the thing that stood out the most was his composure," Redhawks coach Andy Sawyers said. "He gives up the first pitch of the game, an absolute bomb off the scoreboard in left, and it's like, 'Oh, good Lord.' We thought we were going to be in for a long night, and that's the only run they got off him. ... His composure was fantastic."
Southeast (20-15) took the lead for good in the bottom of the second with a six-run outburst. Catcher Brian Lees reached on a walk before a double by designated hitter Chris Caffrey moved both runners into scoring position. Second baseman Danny Wright followed with a no-doubt homer, sending the first pitch he saw to right-center for a 3-1 lead for the hosts.
The freshman Wright was one of three players to record a trio of hits for the Redhawks. He finished 3-for-4 with four RBIs and two runs scored.
"Danny blasted that one," Caffrey said. "That's what we train to do. We want to have good at-bats throughout the entire lineup. ... When we're all doing our job up and down the lineup, we don't care who has the big night. We just want to win."
The rally continued when third baseman Kyle Bottger provided a one-out single, and left fielder Clayton Evans was hit by a pitch, setting up right fielder Chris Osborne, who singled to load the bases for center fielder Dan Holst. On a 3-1 pitch, Holst cleared the bases with a double to dead-center, giving Southeast a 6-1 lead and ending the outing for Bills starting pitcher Keith Kutzler.
The freshman Kutzler (0-1) lasted only 1 1/3 innings to take the pitching loss for SLU (21-13), giving up six runs -- all earned -- on five hits. He hit two batters and walked two.
Southeast kept things going in the bottom of the third, as Caffrey blasted the first pitch he saw over the fence in right-center field to give the hosts a 7-1 lead. Caffrey continued to solidify his role as the Redhawks' DH, recording three hits and finishing a triple shy of the cycle. He improved his batting average 29 points to .279 on the season.
"Offense is definitely the strength of his game, and I think getting him in the DH spot has simplified it. And he's not having to worry about playing defense," Sawyers said. "He's just going out there and playing offense and doing a good job of it.
"He's got a really nice approach. He's driving the ball to the other half of the field really well. He's hit three home runs, all backside. ... He's just playing free and easy, not having to do too much, and is just going out there and letting them fly."
The inning continued, as did SEMO's home-run trend, when Osborne hit the Redhawks' third homer of the game and second of the inning, a three-run blast to right on the first pitch he saw, extending SEMO's lead to 10-1 with two outs. Osborne finished 3-for-4 with four RBIs.
"We've asked them to swing at the first pitch since Day 1," Sawyers said. "Not that you have to put the first pitch into play, but if they're going to throw first-pitch fastballs, we want our guys to be aggressive. And tonight, they were."
Evans finished with a pair of hits, including a triple to right-center to lead off the bottom of the fifth. He crossed home plate on a single by Osborne before Holst got his second hit of the day on a single through the right side, moving Osborne from first to third. First baseman Tristen Gagan grounded into a double play but plated Osborne, and the Redhawks put together a two-out rally, with Wright scoring Lees on a base hit up the middle to give Southeast a 13-1 advantage.
The Redhawks finished with 15 hits, including five for extra bases.
"The mid-week games are just another opportunity for us to stay locked in and try to carry that into the weekend with some rhythm," Caffrey said. "We're trying to get hot at the right time and just sticking with the plan."
Left-handed pitcher Robert Beltran was the first Redhawk out of the bullpen. He threw two shutout innings and struck out two, allowing just one hit. Bills catcher Ryan Hernandez hit a leadoff homer off Southeast reliever Blaze Hastings in the top of the eighth, but Hastings got a fly out sandwiched between a pair of strikeouts to retire the side. Right-hander Chase Hagerty pitched a scoreless ninth for the Redhawks.
SLU used six different pitchers, with Josh Garner the first out of the pen. Garner went the longest (2 2/3 innings) and gave up four earned runs on two hits with two strikeouts and four walks. Ryan Lefner yielded three earned runs on five hits, while Tom Bushnell, Sean Frontzak and Devin Mahoney each threw a scoreless inning of relief for the Bills.
With Tuesday's win, the Redhawks improved to 3-0 against in-state competition. They defeated Missouri State 5-4 on March 15 at Capaha before knocking off nationally-ranked Missouri 6-5 on March 28 in Columbia, Missouri.
"Our kids, and especially our Missouri kids, they take a lot of pride in SEMO," Sawyers said. "They take a lot of pride in the championships we've won here recently. They like to say we're the best team in the state, like, I hear that in the locker room -- 'We're the best team in the state.'
"... We have guys with a lot of pride, and they have pride in this place, too. They like SEMO. They like playing here, and I think getting them up for these games against SLU and Missouri State and Mizzou, that's not an issue. Our guys are always ready to play, and they're excited to play."
Southeast, which is 10-8 in the Ohio Valley Conference, will hit the road for a three-game series versus conference rival Murray State (16-20, 6-9 OVC). Game 1 is scheduled for 6 p.m. Friday.