Indians reach .500 with Samford sweep

Saturday, April 10, 2004

Southeast Missouri State University has not been over .500 all season, nor have the Indians swept an Ohio Valley Conference series.

They'll have a chance to accomplish both things today, thanks to Friday's 7-5 and 9-1 doubleheader sweep of Samford in front of nearly 500 fans at Capaha Field.

The Indians (15-15, 5-3) and Bulldogs (4-22, 0-8) will close out their three-game set at 1 p.m. today.

"We haven't been over .500 all year and it would be great to do that and get a sweep," said junior designated hitter Eric Hoffman, who homered for the second straight game in the opener. "We just need to get on a roll, especially in conference."

Southeast rode solid hitting, strong pitching and -- something that has been missing much of the season -- stellar defense to sweep the visitors from Birmingham, Ala. The Indians entered Friday's action ninth among 10 OVC teams with a .944 fielding percentage, but they made just one error, that a throwing miscue, and turned in several sparkling plays.

"We played well defensively today, like I've felt we would all along," coach Mark Hogan said. "It's the kind of defense I know we're capable of playing."

The Indians had 23 hits, led by junior third baseman Eric Horstman's 5-for-9 performance that included three doubles, three runs scored and three runs batted in.

"We needed these two wins," Horstman said. "We haven't swept anybody yet. It would be nice to do that and get back in the conference race."

Senior first baseman Gary Gilbert went 4-for-6 with two doubles and four runs scored. Junior shortstop Ernie Bracamonte was 4-for-8 with three RBIs. Hoffman had three hits and three RBIs. Junior outfielder Bryan Kurt added three hits.

Mike Fitch (3-2) was the winner in the nine-inning opener. The junior right-hander allowed nine hits and five runs in 6 2/3 innings. He struck out five and walked five.

Junior right-hander Brad Smith continued his season-long stellar relief work by earning his fifth save with 2 1/3 sparkling innings. He hit a batter but allowed no other runners and struck out three. Smith also has a 3-0 record.

"Fitch didn't have his best stuff, but he gutted it out," Hogan said. "And Smith has been tremendous all year. It's great to have a guy like him. He just erased any chance they had."

Junior right-hander Anthony Maupin (4-4) totally dominated the seven-inning finale, firing a four-hitter while striking out seven and walking none. The only run he allowed was unearned. Maupin leads the Indians in victories and complete games (three).

"He really pitched a great game," Hogan said. "His breaking ball was excellent."

Said Maupin, "I had kind of a rough bullpen, but my arm felt good all day and I felt like I'd have a good game."

Southeast actually was lucky to win the opener. The Indians trailed 3-1 before scoring six unearned runs in the bottom of the sixth, thanks in large part to a pair of costly Samford errors on routine plays. Ironically, the Bulldogs had made several impressive fielding plays up to that point.

"That was an excellent game, and we were very fortunate to win," Hogan said. "Samford is a lot better than their record, and it's not going to be easy for us to get the sweep."

Samford had 13 hits on the day, led by Matt Alling with three. Trey Moody had the Bulldogs' lone homer.

Southeast played most of the day without junior center fielder Frankie Montiel, the squad's leading hitter. Montiel was ejected in the first inning of the opener for barreling into Samford's catcher instead of sliding on a play at the plate. The ejection meant an automatic suspension from the next game, although Montiel will be able to play today.

Respond to this story

Posting a comment requires free registration: