Redhawks edge SLU for second straight win

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

Southeast posted a 7-6 victory at home in its nonconference finale.

Winning streaks have been few and far between for Southeast Missouri State this season.

Narrow victories also haven't been very prevalent.

But the Redhawks accomplished both Tuesday, as they ended their nonconference schedule by beating visiting St. Louis University 7-6.

Southeast, which improved to 19-30, now has a winning streak for the first time since the first week in April, albeit a modest one at two straight.

The Redhawks have strung together consecutive victories on just four occasions all season, the longest being a four-game run that ended April 4 with an 11-10 loss at St. Louis University, after Southeast led 10-5 in the eighth inning.

This time, the Redhawks were able to pay SLU (27-24) back with a rally of their own, as they improved to 6-10 in one-run decisions.

"We've been in a lot of close games that haven't gone our way," Southeast coach Mark Hogan said. "It's nice to finally win one of these."

Said Jamie McAlister, who nailed down the victory with a save: "For once, we actually won a one-run game. It was good to come back the way we did."

Southeast fell behind 4-0 after two innings and caught up, but the Billikens seemingly regained control at 6-4 entering the bottom of the seventh.

The Redhawks, who have not been all that successful in clutch offensive situations this season, came through when it counted this time.

With two outs and nobody on base, Daryl Graham walked, freshman Aaron Rave singled and freshman Daniel Schuh brought home both runners with a double.

Southeast went ahead for good in the eighth. Chris Gibson led off with a double, went to third on Levi Olson's sacrifice and came home on Jordan Payne's successful squeeze that actually went for a double as the hard bunt rolled into short left field following an all-or-nothing attempt by the left side of the SLU infield.

"Give our guys credit for battling back," Hogan said. "We had a lot of big plays by a lot of people."

With an eye toward this week's crucial Ohio Valley Conference series against Tennessee Tech, Hogan used several pitchers who have not seen all that much action this year -- and two in particular came up large.

Redshirt freshman Michael Taylor, who had previously worked less than nine innings all season and had not appeared in three weeks, hurled 3 2/3 scoreless frames after SLU had grabbed that early 4-0 lead against starter Asif Shah.

Taylor allowed three hits while striking out three and walking one.

"He was a key to the whole game for us," Hogan said. "He comes in when it's 4-0, and if they keep tacking runs on, we're in real bad shape. I was real pleased with the way he threw."

Freshman Andrew Graham, who has received plenty of playing time in the field but had only pitched 2 2/3 innings -- during the first month of the season -- got the win with a perfect eighth inning. He is 2-0.

"He came in with the game on the line and gave us a great inning," Hogan said.

After Graham allowed a single to start the ninth, McAlister -- one of the Redhawks' primary starters -- came on. He allowed a single but retired the next three batters.

Southeast had 12 hits, led by Schuh with three. Rave and Omar Padilla both had two hits, while Andrew Graham added two RBIs, and Gibson scored twice. Padilla, a junior, took over the Redhawks' batting lead at .327.

SLU had 13 hits, led by B.J. Rodrique with three. Greg Rodgers and Jon Guyre both homered.

Now the Redhawks will turn their attention to the three-game series with Tennessee Tech that will decide whether they make the six-team OVC tournament. Southeast is in seventh place, just one game behind Tech.

Friday's doubleheader has been moved up to 1 p.m. from an originally scheduled 3 p.m. start, with Saturday's regular-season finale also starting at 1 p.m.

"This was a good win for us going into the big series," McAlister said. "It's a shame we're having to fight for the sixth seed, but at least we've got a chance to make the tournament."

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