Southeast blasts three grand slams in 27-16 rout of Freed-Hardeman

Thursday, March 29, 2007
Southeast coach Mark Hogan, right, brought in pitcher Sam Rosener for relief Wednesday. (Kit Doyle)

No, this is not a misprint.

Southeast Missouri State's latest baseball victory was by the football-like score of 27-16 -- and it was only that close because Freed-Hardeman pushed across nine runs in the top of the ninth inning.

"It was a good day for everybody to keep the bats going," senior Asif Shah said. "A game like this is definitely fun."

Teammates congratulate Phillip Riley, 3, after his sixth inning grand slam over the left field wall at Capaha Park on Wednesday, March 28, 2007, against Freed-Hardeman. (Kit Doyle)

But it's doubtful Freed-Hardeman enjoyed itself, as Southeast set the program's all-time single-game scoring record against the NAIA team from Tennessee.

The Redhawks' romp at Capaha Field on Wednesday afternoon was the team's fifth straight win, and its 10th triumph in its last 11 games.

Southeast improved to 17-7 and moved coach Mark Hogan within one victory of tying the late Joe Uhls as the all-time winningest coach in program history.

"It was a wacky Wednesday," said Hogan, who posted his 372nd win in his 13th season at Southeast. "It was a crazy game."

Not only did the Redhawks break their team scoring mark -- Southeast's previous high was 24 runs, accomplished twice -- they also tied an NCAA single-game record with three grand slams.

Southeast becomes the eighth squad to accomplished that feat. Before Southeast pulled it off, the most recent had been Youngstown State in 2001.

"It's nice to set some records. It was a historic day," Hogan said. "You never plan on this type of stuff. But that's baseball. You never know what's going to happen."

The Redhawks' grand slams were by Shah, freshman Nick Harris and senior Phillip Riley, one of Southeast's starting pitchers who hasn't hit recently but entered the game late after the Redhawks built a huge lead.

Southeast banged out a season-high 26 hits, with Shah, Harris and senior Robby Moore all getting four.

Harris, the Redhawks' impressive rookie third baseman, went 4-for-6 with two home runs, six runs batted in and four runs scored. He leads Southeast with six homers and is batting .367.

"He's been pretty amazing for a freshman," Hogan said.

Shah went 4-for-4 with six RBIs and four runs scored as he continued to stamp himself as the premier multi-purpose player in the Ohio Valley Conference.

In addition to being one of Southeast's top starters -- he is 2-0 with a 2.14 ERA that ranks among the OVC leaders -- Shah is batting .381 with five homers and an OVC-best 29 RBIs.

"He's probably one of the best two-way guys in the country right now," Hogan said.

Asked what he likes best, pitching or hitting, a smiling Shah said, "I love to pitch. There's no where I'd rather be than on the mound. But as long as I keep swinging the bat like this, I like it."

Moore, who went 4-for-4 with two doubles and four runs scored, continued his resurgence after hitting just .171 in 41 at-bats last year.

After also getting off to a slow start this season, the Redhawks' shortstop has been on fire. He has a team-best nine-game hitting streak and has boosted his average to a team-leading .392, which ranks among the OVC leaders.

"He looks like Babe Ruth," Hogan said.

Said Moore: "I never lost confidence. I knew I was better than what I showed last year and early this year. Right now, it's great. The ball looks like a beach ball.

"And the whole team is doing it. Everybody is hitting. It's really fun."

Sophomore Matt Wagner, a Nebraska transfer, also homered for Southeast, giving the Redhawks five home runs in the contest.

Wagner, who has homered in three straight games -- he has four on the season and is second on the club with 26 RBIs after getting three Wednesday -- was 3-for-4 to boost his average to .325.

As a team, the Redhawks are now batting .294. Less than two weeks ago, they were struggling at .231.

"Two weeks ago, we were really worried about our offense," Hogan said.

While Southeast's offense stole the show, the Redhawks also got several solid pitching performances, including two from people who haven't logged many innings this year.

Perhaps most encouraging to Hogan was the work of sophomore left-hander James Leigh, who has already been selected twice in the late rounds of the major league amateur draft.

Leigh, who missed all of his junior college season last year while recovering from an arm injury, had thrown just 6 innings prior to Wednesday as he is being worked in slowly by the coaching staff.

In his most extensive outing of the season, Leigh went the first four innings, allowing two runs.

"He looked very good," Hogan said. "He was probably the highlight on the mound."

Since Leigh did not go five innings, he was not eligible to get the win.

That went to another first-year Southeast hurler, junior Sam Rosener, who retired all four batters he faced for his first decision with the Redhawks. Rosener had worked just two innings previously.

"I thought he also threw well," Hogan said.

Senior Josh Parham, one of Southeast's primary relievers, was also effective with a perfect inning.

About the only thing that marred the romp was nine runs the Lions (19-17) scored in the ninth inning. All were unearned because of an error with two outs.

"Like I said, it was a wild Wednesday," Hogan said. "But overall it was a good day for us."

The Redhawks, 3-0 in the OVC, resume conference play this weekend at Murray State.

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