Indians try to stay unbeaten at home

Wednesday, March 17, 2004

Most of Southeast Missouri State University's success so far has taken place at the friendly confines of Capaha Field.

The Indians, coming off a lopsided three-game sweep at Alabama over the weekend, hope to bounce back this week with five consecutive home games, starting today with a 2 p.m. doubleheader against Central Michigan (4-7).

Southeast (4-8) then faces Southwest Missouri State (6-8) in a three-game weekend series, with contests at 1 p.m. Friday, Saturday and Sunday. The Bears made their first-ever College World Series appearance last year.

"These first 12 games have been something else. It just will be nice to be at home again," Southeast coach Mark Hogan said. "We've got nine of our next 10 at home and we need to make a move, get some wins, but it won't be easy."

The Indians are 3-0 at Capaha Field so far but just 1-8 away from home, although those eight defeats were all to highly regarded opponents.

Southeast lost two games to 11th-ranked Mississippi, three games to Oklahoma -- which this week dropped out of the rankings -- and three games to Alabama, which is threatening to break into the national poll. The Indians' lone road triumph came at Arkansas State.

"We've played some of the best teams in the country already, but I don't have any regrets at all about the schedule," Hogan said. "The opportunity to go into these stadiums in front of those crowds is something that I think will help us down the road."

Alabama outscored Southeast 32-1 in the three games, winning 10-1, 2-0 and 20-0. The Indians batted a collective .148 against one of the nation's premier pitching staffs.

"It was unbelievable, the arms they threw out there. We just got totally shut down," Hogan said. "But we had some bright spots. Our starting pitching was solid and Anthony Maupin threw a great game."

Maupin, a junior-college transfer, allowed just six hits during a complete-game performance in the 2-0 loss.

Southeast's team batting average tumbled to .253 following the Alabama series. Eric Horstman (.386), Bryan Kurt (.364) and Frankie Montiel (.346), all juco transfers, are the Indians' lone regulars hitting above .300.

"We need to get our offense going," Hogan said.

Central Michigan is in the midst of a monstrous stretch of 21 straight road games to start the season. The Chippewas won't play at home until March 30.

The Chippewas carry a .322 batting average, led by Jim Geldhof (.413), Kurtis Wells (.404), Jeremy Crum (.395) and J.T. Jones (.378). They have an 8.62 earned-run average while Southeast is at 7.69.

"It looks like they've got a good offensive club. They've had some trouble with their pitching statistically, but I really don't know what to expect," Hogan said. "I'm sure we'll have two competitive games."

Hogan plans to start returning senior Stan Skakalski and juco transfer Derek Herbig in today's games.

Junior left-hander Jon Nourie, one of Southeast's top returning hurlers who has made just one appearance so far because of elbow problems, will probably miss at least three more weeks, Hogan said, and there is a chance he could miss the rest of the season.

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