OXFORD, Ala. – A mammoth grand slam by sophomore leftfielder Niko Hulsizer, coupled with masterful pitching from junior right-hander Seth Boyle and production throughout the lineup, led to a 12-6 victory for Morehead State over Murray State in the OVC Tournament Thursday night.
The second-seeded Eagles (36-21) moved on to the winner's bracket final where they'll face top-seed Tennessee Tech Friday at 4 p.m. ET. MSU won two of three at Tech just last weekend.
Hulsizer launched a second-inning, two-out grand slam that ended up hitting a moving fire truck in left field, and that gave the Eagles a 5-1 lead they never relinquished. Hulsizer's bomb also gave him the Morehead State single-season record for RBI (78), surpassing Kevin Matuszek's previous mark of 76 in 2002. That round-tripper also was his 25th of the year, tying him with Eastern Kentucky's Ben Fisher for the national lead and leaving him one short of the MSU and OVC single-season standard.
"We knew Niko could be in for a special year, but I don't think anyone envisioned the production and the value he has given us. It has been fun to watch, and he had struggled a bit lately, but we knew if he got the right pitch, he could do some damage," said head coach Mike McGuire.
Boyle (1-0) came on in relief of starter Jake Ziegelmeyer in the fifth and went the distance, striking out five and allowing just three hits for his longest career outing.
"Seth was outstanding, just phenomenal," McGuire added. "You know Jake gave up some long balls, but we knew it was inevitable because this park is playing so small. The thing was that he gave up mostly solo homers, and we didn't issue too many free bases ahead of them. They did issue some free bases and we took advantage with runners on base."
Jack Hranec hit the first of his two homers to make it a 5-4 Eagle lead in the third, but Morehead State answered right away with five tallies in the third. Hunter Fain and Reid Leonard collected RBI singles, and Will Schneider plated two with a single, and the Eagles had an 11-4 cushion after four.
Murray State's senior righthander John Lollar stymied the Eagles with just four hits and one run in the final five innings, but Boyle matched him.
Junior second baseman Braxton Morris was 4-for-5, while Hulsizer, Fain, Schneider and senior centerfielder Ryan Kent had two hits apiece. Morehead State rapped out 15 hits.
The Eagles were also plunked by five pitches, giving them a program-record 99 now on the season.
Baseball Moves Closer to OVC Tournament Title Chance with 12-6 Victory Over Murray State - The Official Site of Morehead State University Athletics