Redhawks' error-free day ends in victory

Tuesday, March 11, 2003

Southeast won the opener of a weekend series with South Dakota State 5-1.

Late Thursday night, after nearly a full day of torrential rain, the chances of Southeast Missouri State playing baseball on Friday did not look good.

But Capaha Field recovered from the deluge nicely -- and the Redhawks took advantage by putting together perhaps their best all-around performance this year.

Jamie McAlister pitched a complete game and was backed by timely hitting and errorless defense as Southeast beat South Dakota State 5-1.

The Redhawks, who snapped a four-game losing streak, improved to 5-7. The Jackrabbits fell to 1-7.

"It was our best game so far," Southeast coach Mark Hogan said. "We played an excellent game, and we needed it.

"We played really good defense, and we came up with several two-out RBI hits, which we hadn't been doing much of."

Southeast played just its second errorless game of the season, the other coming in an opening loss at Arkansas State. Four of the Redhawks' five runs came with two outs.

And then there was McAlister, a senior right-hander who tossed the Redhawks' first complete game of the season.

McAlister, a junior college transfer in his second year at Southeast, struck out a career-high 11 without a walk and allowed five hits to improve to 2-3. Of his 109 pitches, 82 went for strikes.

"Jamie's performance was phenomenal, the best since he's been here," Hogan said.

Said McAlister: "I felt good. I hit my spots, I executed what pitches were called. And the defense did their part.

"It feels good to pitch a complete game. Once you get that far, you really want to finish. And the team needed a game like this."

The Redhawks, who entered the contest with a .224 team batting average, did not exactly tear the cover off the baseball. They finished with eight hits, but they came up with several timely hits, particularly with two outs.

"That was a big key," Hogan said.

Freshman first baseman Aaron Rave, batting .410, had two hits. So did senior catcher Levi Olson, hitting .444 (4-for-9) in limited action so far.

Southeast took the lead for good with two second-inning runs. Senior Jordan Payne was hit by a pitch with two outs, stole second and scored on junior Daryl Graham's single. Freshman Daniel Schuh drove in Graham with a triple.

McAlister, who retired 16 of the first 17 batters he faced, allowed three of his five hits in the sixth inning, when SDSU scored its lone run.

The Redhawks gave McAlister some breathing room in their half of the sixth. Graham walked and stole second with one out. Olson followed with an RBI double, and junior Dustin Pritchett delivered a pinch-hit RBI double with two outs, making it 4-1.

Southeast added an unearned run with two outs in the eighth.

"It was a really good game for us," McAlister said.

Even though, after all of Thursday's rain, the outlook for playing appeared somewhat dim. But the start time was moved back to 5 p.m. instead of the scheduled 1 p.m., and the field was actually in solid shape.

"The field played good, considering all the rain we got," Hogan said.

The three-game series was supposed to include single contests today and Sunday, but with more rain in the forecast for the weekend, the teams will attempt to play a doubleheader at 1 p.m. today. If they are successful, there will be no game Sunday, but Sunday can still be used if needed, Hogan said.

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