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Alvarez, offense click in Indians' sweep
Continued timely hitting, solid defense and another win by Tim Alvarez -- plus the first victory when Alvarez wasn't on the mound -- added up to a banner Tuesday for Southeast Missouri State University's baseball team.
The Indians had three home runs among their 17 hits as they swept a doubleheader from Lipscomb, winning 9-3 and 6-5 in front of more than 500 fans at Capaha Field.
Southeast (6-8) won its third straight game for the Indians' first winning streak this season. The Bisons, from Nashville, Tenn., fell to 6-12.
"It was a super day for us," Southeast coach Mark Hogan said. "We came through in crucial situations. I think we grew up as a team today."
Said senior shortstop Zach Borowiak, whose grand slam in the first game helped Alvarez breeze to another victory, "It feels great to put together a winning streak for the first time. I think it's all starting to come together for us."
Alvarez, the Indians' top returning pitcher from last season and now the team's only experienced returning hurler after Donnie Fuller's recent injury, continued to roll. The senior left-hander pitched six scoreless innings, scattering six hits while striking out three and walking two. He is 5-0 with a 1.85 earned-run average.
"Tim is amazing," Hogan said. "People just can't figure him out."
Borowiak's bases-loaded home run in the bottom of the fifth inning was part of a six-run uprising that put the Indians ahead 9-0. It was Borowiak's third homer of the season, and he took the team lead in runs batted in with 14.
Junior center fielder Seth Moulton added a two-run shot in the fifth, his second homer of the season. Moulton went 3-for-3 with four RBIs, and he added a hit in the second game, raising his average to .260 -- a whopping 60-point increase from when the day started.
"It's nice to contribute," Moulton said. "We needed it. We hadn't put wins together all season."
Moulton, a junior-college transfer who batted .401 at Iowa Western last year, had been struggling at the plate. Part of the problem, according to Hogan, was that he tried to convert Moulton into a switch-hitter to take advantage of his speed from the left side of the plate.
"I got so enamored with his speed and what he might be able to do from the left side," Hogan said. "But the other day at batting practice, I told him to forget about that for now and just go back to hitting from the right side."
Said a smiling Moulton, who had never before this season batted left-handed, "Coach said we're going to put that on hold for a little bit. It was disappointing I couldn't get the job done, but it's better for the team, and I feel more comfortable."
While the opener was a breeze, the second game was anything but. Southeast jumped on top 5-0 with a five-run second that featured junior-college transfer first baseman Gary Gilbert's first Southeast homer, a two-run shot.
But the Indians had to hold on. Leading 6-4 entering the seventh, senior right-hander James Beever got a strikeout to end the contest after Lipscomb scored once and had runners on first and third. Perhaps the saving play in the inning was a diving stop by senior second baseman Justin Christian that resulted in a forceout prior to a hit that made it 6-5.
Beever was solid over the final two innings, allowing one run while striking out three.
"All I was thinking was get that last out," Beever said.
Junior-college transfer right-hander Ryan Forsyth turned in his second straight strong relief performance. He retired the first seven batters he faced and allowed just one run in 2 1/3 innings, with three strikeouts, before giving way to Beever.
Starter Bill Clayton, a hard-throwing junior right-hander who transferred from Southern Illinois, pitched two perfect innings before running into problems in a three-run third and giving way to Forsyth. Clayton, who was clocked at 94 miles per hour by several scouts in attendance, allowed three hits and struck out four.
"I thought a lot of guys threw well," said Hogan, whose squad has been bothered by inconsistent pitching -- save for Alvarez -- so far. "It was encouraging."
Senior catcher Tristen McDonald added three hits in the two games while Borowiak, Gilbert, senior third baseman Denver Stuckey and senior right fielder David Lawson all had two.
Chris Parker, Patrick O'Rourke and Kyle Jackson all had three of Lipscomb's 17 hits on the day.