CAPE GIRARDEAU, Mo. –  Down to its final out on Tuesday night, the University of Evansville baseball team got two-run home runs from current Missouri Valley Conference Player of the Week Mark Shallenberger and graduate first baseman Chase Hug in the top of the ninth inning, and then the Purple Aces were able to hold on for a 7-6 victory over the Southeast Missouri State Redhawks at Capaha Field in Cape Girardeau, Missouri.
“What a wild game!” said UE head coach Wes Carroll.  “It started out as a pitcher’s duel, and I thought that Kevin Reed was outstanding.  Then things got crazy late, but our guys never panicked, and Mark Shallenberger and Chase Hug really stepped up and hit big home runs in the ninth to give us the lead.
“In the bottom of the ninth, I really have to credit Max Hansmann for battling.  The play he made at third base defensively was also outstanding, and a huge play to help us hold on.  We still have some things to iron out, but a win is always better than the alternative, and we’ll take it.”
Evansville jumped to an early 3-0 lead in the second inning thanks to a two-run double by graduate catcher Brendan Hord and an RBI double by junior outfielder Harrison Taubert.  Reed would make the lead stand up through the first six innings, as he shut out the Redhawks on just four hits in a season-high 6.0 innings of work, striking out five.
Reliever Drew Fieger came on in the seventh, and worked a scoreless frame, before things would get crazy in the eighth inning.  SEMO batted around in the eighth inning and scored four runs, without the baseball leaving the infield in the frame.
The Redhawks would take a 4-3 lead into the ninth inning and called on reliever Kyle Miller, who is SEMO’s all-time saves leader.  With one out, junior designated hitter Cal McGinnis roped a single to right field.  Then, with two outs, Shallenberger belted a 0-1 pitch just over the fence down the left-field line for his team-leading 12th home run of the year to give UE a 5-4 lead.  Two batters later, Hug crushed a two-run home run to right field to give UE a 7-4 lead.
Both home runs would be needed in the bottom of the ninth, as SEMO quickly loaded the bases and got a one-out, two-run single to cut UE’s lead to 7-6.  SEMO DH Keoni Coloma then sent a high fly ball down the left-field line where UE’s third baseman, shortstop and left fielder all converged, but the ball bounced in safely.  Shallenberger, UE’s left fielder, quickly fielded and threw a strike to pitcher Max Hansmann, who was covering third base.  The throw was off-line though, and Hansmann had to make a full-extension lunge to his right to catch the ball, just barely keeping his foot on the bag for the force out.  Hansmann (1-1) then struck out the final batter to secure the 7-6 victory for UE.
Shallenberger and Hug both went 2-for-4 with home runs and two RBI to help lead UE.  Taubert also had two hits, and senior shortstop Simon Scherry went 2-for-4 as well to close within just one hit of cracking UE’s career top 10 for hits.
With the victory, Evansville improved to 25-19 overall.  SEMO, meanwhile, dropped to 22-23 with the loss.  The Purple Aces will now travel north to Valparaiso, Indiana to battle the Valparaiso Beacons in a three-game Missouri Valley Conference series this weekend.  The series will begin on Friday afternoon at 3 p.m. in a game that can be heard live in the Tri-State area on 107.1 FM-WJPS.