Redhawks find controversy, victory and a loss vs. Samford

Saturday, April 15, 2006

After dropping a hotly contested opener 6-5, Southeast defeated the OVC-leading Bulldogs 7-4 in the nightcap.

Southeast Missouri State shook off the disappointment of a controversial Game 1 loss -- and the ejection of its head coach following the contest -- to salvage a doubleheader split against visiting Samford on Friday.

The Redhawks dropped the nine-inning opener 6-5 and captured the seven-inning nightcap 7-4.

Ohio Valley Conference leader Samford (19-16, 9-2) and Southeast (14-19, 5-6) will conclude their three-game series at 1 p.m. today at Capaha Field.

"It was good to bounce back with a win against a really good team," Southeast coach Mark Hogan said. "It was obviously good to get a split after the way the first game went."

Hogan had issues with the way the contest went, namely during the top of the third inning.

Samford, ahead 1-0 after scoring a run in the first, had Michael Marseco on second base with two outs. Parker Gargis singled to left field, where Dustin Pritchett fired a strike to catcher Levi Olson, who applied the tag on Marseco, who never reached the plate.

The Redhawks looked to be out of the inning -- but not so fast.

Home plate umpire Mike Thomas ruled Olson had obstructed Marseco's path to the plate, although it appeared Olson had moved to the left of the plate to receive Pritchett's throw just a split second before it actually arrived.

Hogan immediately bolted from the dugout to protest the call, but to no avail.

The call stood, and the Bulldogs added another run in the inning. Those two tallies proved decisive in the one-run decision.

Asked what kind of an explanation Thomas had given him, Hogan said: "He couldn't explain it. I said if there's no throw, it's obstruction. Where is he supposed to catch the ball?

"It cost us the game."

Olson also disagreed with the call.

"He said it was obstruction," Olson said. "I asked him where I should stand. You're not supposed to be in the sliding lane without the ball. I thought I had the ball.

"It's a judgment call. I thought it was poor judgment."

After the Redhawks fell just short, Hogan's frustration boiled over. As the umpires exited the field following the opener, Hogan again voiced his displeasure and was given the boot, forcing him to watch the finale from outside the playing field.

"I'm really proud of my staff. They did a great job with the second game," Hogan said. "I watched it on the hill [beyond the outfield fence], and we played well.

"Really, we played well in both games. The opener could have gone either way."

The Redhawks bounced back in the second game behind their continued offensive resurgence and another solid pitching performance from Anthony Maupin.

Maupin, a senior right-hander, worked his fourth straight complete game, a streak that covers all of his OVC outings. Friday, he allowed eight hits and four runs with four strikeouts and two walks.

Maupin, who improved to 4-3, held the Bulldogs scoreless for the final three innings.

"Anthony has been great in these seven-inning games," Hogan said. "He has some stamina. When he gets about the fifth inning, he seems to get his second wind."

Southeast, which only a couple of weeks ago was one of the nation's worst hitting teams with a .217 batting average, is now at .250 after 20 hits in the doubleheader.

The Redhawks had 12 second-game hits to back Maupin, marking the third time in the past four games they have reached double figures in the hit column.

"Our guys are really coming around at the plate, up and down the lineup," Hogan said.

Senior designated hitter Andy Johnson continued to be one of the Redhawks' real feel-good stories.

Johnson, strictly a pitcher last year, can no longer perform that task because of shoulder problems. He decided to try his hand at hitting, and after some impressive batting practice sessions, became Southeast's regular DH less than two weeks ago.

Since then, Johnson -- who did not play high school baseball and said prior to this season he had basically not hit in about 14 years -- has been tearing the cover off the ball.

Johnson homered in each game Friday, giving him the team lead with four in just 30 official plate appearances. He is batting .367.

"I'm starting to run out of things to say," said Johnson, who had three hits in the doubleheader. "It's been fun as can be."

Junior college transfer second baseman Omar Padilla, who not long ago had been mired in an 0-for-19 slump, continued his tear as well.

Padilla had two doubles in each game, as he went 4-for-6 on the day. His average is up to .308.

Olson, Southeast's leader with a .370 average, added three more hits, including his first homer of the year.

Junior college transfer third baseman Phillip Riley had three hits, including his third homer; junior left fielder Pritchett added three hits; and junior college transfer shortstop Daryl Graham hit his first Southeast homer.

Senior right-hander Jamie McAlister (4-6) took the loss in the opener. He went all nine innings and allowed 11 hits, with seven strikeouts and one walk.

OVC strikeout leader Josh Ehmke (6-2), a left-hander, fanned 11 in eight innings for the victory.

After Southeast battled back for a 3-3 tie in the opener, Samford freshman shortstop Marseco belted his first college homer, a two-run shot in the seventh that put the Bulldogs ahead to stay.

Samford had 19 hits in the two games, led by Garrett Rice with four, including a homer. Marseco, Bear Burnett, Trey Moody and OVC batting leader Gargis all added three hits.

"The first game was a tough one. We couldn't pull it out, but we came back in the second game," Johnson said. "It would be great to win tomorrow and win the series."

Added Olson: "We have to win tomorrow."

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