Redhawks recover vs. SLU

Thursday, March 8, 2007
Southeast Missouri State senior Robby Moore leaned away while being hit by a pitch during Southeast's 5-2 win over St. Louis University on Wednesday.

It didn't take long for Southeast Missouri State to erase the bad taste from Tuesday night.

Less than 24 hours after Southeast lost at Arkansas State on a ninth-inning, walkoff home run, the Redhawks beat visiting St. Louis University 5-2 on Wednesday afternoon at Capaha Park.

The Redhawks, continuing their best start since 2000, improved to 7-3. The Billikens, who last year made their first NCAA regional appearance since 1966, fell to 1-10.

"It was a really tough loss last night, then we get back about 1 a.m., and a few hours later the guys have to get right back up for classes," said Southeast coach Mark Hogan, whose squad erased a 5-1 eighth-inning deficit at Arkansas State before falling 6-5. "I'm really proud of the way they bounced back today.

"This is huge for us, and that's one of the great things about baseball. You don't have to wait very long to play again."

Southeast Missouri State's Asif Shah slid into the tag of St. Louis University shortstop Ryan Bennett while trying to steal second base after being picked off of first Wednesday at Capaha Park. (Kit Doyle)

Southeast rode a strong start from Phillip Riley, clutch relief work, stellar defense and timely hitting to beat the Billikens in the opener of an eight-game homestand.

Riley, a senior right-hander who had six starts last year, made his first start of the season against SLU.

Riley, who had pitched just one-third of an inning before Wednesday, took a shutout into the seventh. He finished with a six-hitter over 6 innings, allowing one run while striking out four and walking four.

"He was very good," Hogan said. "He did everything we could have asked from him and more."

Riley said he was glad to get the ball Wednesday, and perhaps surprised even himself by working that long.

Southeast Missouri State pitcher Phillip Riley made a delivery to home Wednesday against St. Louis University at Capaha Park. Riley pitched 6 innings to earn the victory. (Kit Doyle)

"I really didn't think I'd be in there that long," he said. "But I felt really good. I hadn't thrown much yet, so my arm was strong."

Riley (1-1) took advantage of strong relief work -- with a major assist from Southeast's defense -- to notch his first victory of the season, after he had been tagged for the loss in his only previous appearance.

Leading 3-0 in the top of the seventh, Riley ran into trouble on two infield singles and a solid two-out single that broke up the shutout.

With runners on first and third, junior right-hander Matt Holland -- a Ste. Genevieve native who transferred from Southern Arkansas -- was called upon for the first time in a Southeast uniform.

Holland got Bill Musselman to fly to short right, but the ball started playing tricks on the windy day and looked like it might drop.

Southeast Missouri State senior Robby Moore leans away while being hit by a pitch during Southeast's 5-2 win over St. Louis University at Capaha Park on Wednesday, March 7, 2007. (Kit Doyle)

Right fielder Daryl Graham appeared to be having trouble as he came in, but second baseman Omar Padilla made a sliding catch at the feet of Graham to end the threat.

"Matt came in and did the job, and Omar made a great play," Hogan said.

In the top of the eighth, with Southeast ahead 4-1, Holland allowed a double and single as SLU had runners on second and third with nobody out.

On came Ivan Nails, a junior-college transfer who has assumed Southeast's right-handed closer role.

Nails retired the next three batters, with a run scoring -- it was charged to Holland. He closed things out in the ninth for his second save of the season.

"He looks really good in that role," Hogan said.

Earlier in the game, sophomore center fielder Daniel Schuh made a sliding catch to end a fourth-inning threat after SLU put two runners on.

"We played very good defense, and our pitching was great again," Hogan said. "That's been our formula so far this year."

Southeast's offense was again underwhelming, but it did enough to scratch out five runs despite having just seven hits.

The Redhawks broke on top with a three-run first inning, getting three hits.

Sophomore Matt Wagner, a Nebraska transfer, had an RBI single and sophomore Matt Wulfers -- a Missouri transfer and former Notre Dame High School star -- delivered a two-run double on a flare to short left field.

Southeast managed only four hits the rest of the way, but added runs in the seventh, on Padilla's RBI single; and eighth, on senior Chad Mercado's sacrifice fly.

The Redhawks are batting just .226 as a team, but their earned-run average is a stellar 2.81.

"We've got some good hitters and I'm confident our offense will come around," Hogan said.

Hogan expects a rugged test this weekend as Illinois State from the Missouri Valley Conference comes to Capaha Field for a three-game series.

There will be a 3 p.m. contest Friday, followed by 1 p.m. starts Saturday and Sunday.

The Redbirds are just 3-6, but have played a tough schedule and have not yet played a home game.

Illinois State owns a win over nationally ranked Arkansas, against which the Redbirds dropped two of three in a recent series.

"I think this will be one of the best clubs that will come in here this year," Hogan said. "We'll get a test."

Respond to this story

Posting a comment requires free registration: