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Redhawks stumble over gloves vs. SIU
A costly error in the fifth inning resulted in four two-out runs as Southeast Missouri State's two-game winning streak ended Tuesday with a 7-2 nonconference loss to Southern Illinois at Capaha Field.
The Salukis (23-9) scored five unearned runs thanks to four Southeast errors. Southeast (21-12) had committed just three errors in its three-game series against Jacksonville State over the weekend.
"This is one of the worst defensive games we've had all year," Southeast coach Mark Hogan said. "It was just disappointing. We have a better defensive team [than we showed]. We didn't bring the gloves today."
Redhawks starter Phillip Riley cruised through the first three innings, facing the minimum. It was the first outing for Riley since pitching just two-thirds of an inning in relief at Murray State on April 1.
Despite his long layoff, Riley had command throughout the start. He got himself into a little trouble in the fourth, allowing a run on two hits.
In the fifth, Riley retired two of the first three batters, but a two-out walk followed by an error by first baseman Matt Wagner opened the floodgates.
"Phillip threw well enough to get a heck of a better decision than he got today," Hogan said. "Two earned runs and they score seven, that's the whole ball of wax today."
Following the error, Adam Hills crushed a two-run double to the left-center gap to push the lead to 4-2. Southern Illinois' leading hitter Mark Kelly followed with an RBI single to push the margin to 5-2.
Riley was removed following the single by Kelly. In 4 2/3 innings, Riley allowed six hits, struck out one, walked two and allowed one earned run.
Hills and Kelly had just one hit apiece, but combined for four RBIs. Hills had three RBIs.
"That was the only hit [Hills] got, and that was the biggest hit of the game," Hogan said.
The Redhawks left two runners on in the fifth and sixth innings, but the Salukis were able to use five pitchers to make sure the Redhawks did not have another comeback in them. Southern Illinois starter Shawn Joy, who is one of SIU's top hurlers but didn't pitch in this past weekend's series due to bad weather, threw six innings for the win. Joy did not allow an earned run, walked three and struck out one.
Four relievers combined to allow just one hit over the final three innings for the Salukis. Aaron Roberts led the Salukis with three hits.
It was the seventh straight game Southeast has been held to five or fewer runs. Southeast last scored more than five runs in a 17-3 win at Murray State.
"You've got to give credit to them," Hogan said. "They only play two games this weekend in the Missouri Valley. Joy's one of their conference starters, and he showed why."
Since the Redhawks ended their Ohio Valley Conference series against Jacksonville State on Saturday, they were able to get some of their conference pitchers work in Tuesday's game. Dustin Renfrow and Asif Shah both saw action, as did key reliever Josh Parham and closer Ivan Nails.
"The plus side was the pitchers got their work in," Hogan said. "I thought our pitchers all were really good."
Jim Klocke and Shah had two hits apiece for the Redhawks.
The Redhawks will be back in action Saturday for a weekend series at preseason OVC favorite Samford. Heading into the series, the Redhawks are tied for the OVC lead at 7-2, while Samford sits near the bottom of the OVC at 3-6. Southeast will be on the road for the next two weeks before returning home for a series against Memphis on April 24 and 25.
"There's not doubt about it, we'll have our hands full this weekend in Samford," Hogan said.