Redhawks' struggles continue

Thursday, March 23, 2006

Missouri State posted a 5-2 victory at Capaha Field.

Missouri State baseball coach Keith Guttin considers pitching to be the strength of his team.

Considering the way Southeast Missouri State has struggled offensively most of the season, that figured to be bad news for the Redhawks on Wednesday afternoon.

Form held as the Bears limited the Redhawks to just two late hits during a 5-2 victory at Capaha Field.

Missouri State improved to 10-7 with its fourth straight win, while Southeast fell to 6-11 with its fourth consecutive loss.

"We're just not getting it done on the field," Southeast coach Mark Hogan said. "We didn't have very good at-bats today."

The Redhawks saw their team batting average dip to .226. With an inexperienced lineup around the field, Hogan knew it might take some time for his offense to come around. But he didn't plan on it taking this long.

"It's hard to figure out," Hogan said. "We're trying to do different things. It's just not working.

"We look good in batting practice. We have a lot of young hitters, but it's mystifying. But I still have confidence in this club. I haven't given up on them."

It hasn't helped the Redhawks that three of the players Hogan was counting on to help provide some offensive punch -- Dustin Pritchett, Quenten Rouse and freshman Andrew Graham -- have missed considerable time with injuries.

All were recently cleared to return to action soon, although Hogan doesn't know exactly when they'll be back in the lineup.

"When you're struggling offensively, you look for anything," said Hogan, whose squad has scored four runs in its last three games. "Obviously you'd like to have a full deck to work with."

Three Missouri State hurlers combined to strike out nine. Although they issued six walks, Southeast's lack of offensive punch made that a moot point.

The Redhawks were actually fortunate to score at all. They got a run in the first inning without the benefit of a hit as Omar Padilla walked, stole second, went to third on a ground ball and came home on a wild pitch.

Trailing 2-1, the Redhawks -- who got their first hit in the seventh on an infield single by Daniel Schuh -- tied the score in the eighth on a real gift run.

Brent Lawson led off with a double on a ball that was misjudged by right fielder Chris Taylor. He was sacrificed to third. With two outs, Phillip Riley hit the most routine of popups on the infield -- but it was dropped by second baseman Matt Lawson as Brent Lawson scored.

But the Bears shook off that lapse by scoring three times in the ninth off Riley (1-2), after the first two batters were retired .

After a walk and a single, Jake Hilgendorf's single broke the tie, then Matt Lawson redeemed himself with a two-run double.

"It's part of the game. You have to play through them," said Guttin of Lawson's error. "We showed something by coming right back, and he had one of the big hits."

Said Hogan: "Two-out walks will kill you every time."

With an eye toward this weekend's Ohio Valley Conference-opening series at Tennessee-Martin, Hogan used six pitchers.

Starter Derek Herbig, who had been struggling, allowed one hit in three scoreless innings.

"It was good to see him do well," Hogan said.

Jamie McAlister worked two hitless innings, while Josh Parham continued his strong seasonlong work with a one-hit, scoreless frame.

James Hibbard was touched for three hits and two runs in the seventh, as Missouri State went ahead 2-1.

Anthony Maupin worked a perfect inning, followed by Riley being hit with the loss in the ninth.

Maupin, McAlister and Herbig will be the likely starters this weekend.

Chris Krawczyk (2-1) got the win for the Bears. He pitched the final 2 1/3 innings.

The most impressive Missouri State hurler was freshman Matt Frevert, who allowed one hit in five scoreless innings.

"He's been good all year," Guttin said.

Six of Missouri State's eight hits were doubles, with seven of the hits coming over the final four innings.

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