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Redhawks drop generous SIU
Southeast capitalizes on five SIU errors to earn a nonconference win.
CARBONDALE, Ill. -- This time Southern Illinois played the role of gracious host.
Southeast Missouri State was more than happy to accept the Salukis' gifts.
Last week Southeast had one of its worst performances during this bounce-back season, committing four errors and handing visiting SIU five unearned runs during a 7-2 loss.
Wednesday afternoon at Abe Martin Field, the Salukis returned the favor with five errors. The Redhawks scored seven unearned runs to win 9-7 and gain a split in the season series between the squads.
"The tide turned this week with the errors," Southeast sophomore left fielder Matt Wulfers said with a smile. "But at the same time we played well."
That was the main thing Southeast coach Mark Hogan took from the nonconference game that pushed the Redhawks' record to 24-13 and dropped the Salukis to 23-13.
Southeast did not commit an error while making several impressive defensive plays. The Redhawks also made SIU pay for its sloppy defense with 11 hits, including three doubles.
"We had a lot of good swings, we played great defense and our pitching was solid," Hogan said. "We had a real good showing today.
"I'm proud of the way we bounced back [from last week[']s game with SIU] against a very good team."
The Redhawks, who are tied for first place in the Ohio Valley Conference, have already surpassed their victory total from last season's 23-33 disappointment.
With 19 scheduled regular-season games remaining and at least two in the OVC tournament -- it will be an upset at this point if Southeast doesn't qualify -- the Redhawks could challenge the program's single-season win record of 37, attained twice under Hogan.
"It's very gratifying, the way we've played so far this year," Hogan said. "But there is still so much of the season left."
Wulfers, who had been mired in a slump, broke out by going 3-for-4, including a double.
"I was thrilled," Wulfers said. "I made an adjustment with my hands and it paid off."
Senior designated hitter Asif Shah doubled twice and drove in two runs. He raised his OVC-leading RBI total to 40.
Senior right fielder Daryl Graham also had two hits for the Redhawks.
Southeast led 5-0 after five innings behind the pitching of senior right-hander Phillip Riley, but Riley apparently ran out of gas and SIU rallied for a 5-5 tie by scoring twice in the sixth and three times in the seventh.
Undaunted, the Redhawks answered right back with a three-run eighth -- all the tallies unearned thanks to a pair of SIU errors.
Wulfers led off with a single. Graham sacrificed and reached base when pitcher Ian Reinhart threw the ball past first, putting runners on second and third.
A Reinhart wild pitch allowed Wulfers to score the tie-breaking run. With two outs, senior second baseman Omar Padilla singled to score Graham, and Padilla later came around on SIU's second miscue of the frame, a dropped fly ball.
The Redhawks went ahead 9-5 in the ninth and withstood a two-run SIU bottom of the frame.
"We didn't play our best last week and it's nice to beat a school close to us from a good conference," Southeast senior left-handed pitcher Josh Parham said.
Parham (4-3) picked up the win with 1 2/3 innings of one-run relief after replacing Riley in the seventh. He allowed two inherited runners to score as SIU tied the contest.
"I would have liked to keep the lead for Phil because he pitched so well, but any time we can get a win, it's good," Parham said.
Riley, who had a three-hitter through five innings, allowed eight hits and was charged with five runs in 6 1/3 innings. He struck out three and walked three.
After Parham, who fanned two, allowed a leadoff single in the ninth, junior right-hander closer Ivan Nails came on. He immediately gave up Mark Kelly's two-run homer but struck out two of the next three batters to preserve the victory.
"Riley gave us a great start, Parham did a good job and Nails showed me something by coming back after giving up the home run to a very good hitter," Hogan said.
"It's a really good win for us."
SIU outhit Southeast 13-11, but the Redhawks were able to post their first win in seven tries this year against a Missouri Valley Conference squad.
"We've struggled all year with MVC teams, so that's another positive," Hogan said.
Southeast resumes Ohio Valley Conference play this weekend with a series at Austin Peay.