Murray State (17-23) got a strong outing from Cody Maerz, who notched his second win of the season and cruised to a sweep against Alabama A&M (3-36) last weekend.
Maerz pitched five scoreless innings while striking out three, and only surrendering six hits.
The freshman from Louisville, Ky., said he wanted to allow the players behind him to make plays by just getting the ball over the plate.
“I always just want to go out there and throw strikes,” Maerz said. “I don’t want my defense to sit out there and not get any plays.”
The scoring for the ‘Breds got started in the bottom of the second with a passed ball that allowed Noah Zipko to cross the plate.
Nick Paradossi hit the next pitch towards third for an infield single to score Taylor Mathews.
Murray State scored in an unusual way in the bottom of the fifth. Already leading 3-0, Zipko swung and missed at strike three, but the ball skipped by Alabama A&M catcher Austin Hulsey, allowing Brandon Elliott to score and Zipko to reach safely at first.
In a game that never appeared to be in jeopardy, there was only one dramatic moment. With Murray State leading 4-1 and the tying run at the plate in the top of the eighth, Murray State’s Andrew Bramley got the Bulldogs’ Jordan Friend to ground out to third to end the inning.
Murray State closer Brock Downey came on in the ninth with two out and two on and shut the door by getting Hulsey to ground out to short for Downey’s first save of the season.
Coach Rob McDonald said he was pleased not only with the outcome of the weekend series, but that he thinks things are starting to fall into Murray State’s favor.
“I feel like our guys deserved some things to go their way and they did this weekend,” McDonald said. “It was just nice to see things go our way when it felt like we deserved for it to and hopefully that begins a trend.”
Murray State used an 11-run fourth inning to open the series with an 11-1 win Friday. It was the first time all season the ‘Breds had 10 or more players cross the plate in one frame.
Mike Kozlowski went three for four with a double and Paul Ritzheimer was two for two at the dish with two knocked in.
Right-hander Cameron Finch threw six and two-thirds innings, allowing only one run for his sixth win of the season.
On Saturday, the ‘Breds continued their offensive dominance, scoring 10 runs in the first three innings on their way to a 16-4 pounding of the Bulldogs. Ty Stetson and Elliott combined for seven for 12 at the plate and six runs batted in. Cashtyn DeLeeuw gave up three runs through six innings while picking up his third win of the season.
Throughout the series, Murray State combined for 32 runs, the most in a weekend series this year.
The ‘Breds are currently four games back of the last spot in the OVC playoffs. With every weekend series from here on out being an OVC opponent, Murray State has entered its most important part of the season.
McDonald said he was confident in his team, but understands how tough it will be going forward.
“We need to put together the kind of streak we haven’t done so far,” he said. “I keep telling our guys there have been a lot of times where teams will win eight or nine in a row. We can do it, but we have to play really well.”
The ‘Breds will face Tennessee Tech this weekend in a three-game series. McDonald said the ‘Breds can sweep the series as long as they take it one game at a time.
The first game of the series starts at 6 p.m. tonight in Cookeville, Tenn.
Story by Steven Peake, Contributing writer.