EKU muffles Indian bats in sweep

Monday, May 3, 2004

Eastern Kentucky entered Sunday's doubleheader against Southeast Missouri State University as statistically one of the nation's premier college baseball teams.

The Colonels sure made believers out of the Indians after a dominating sweep, 11-4 and 3-0 in front of more than 300 fans at Capaha Field.

EKU improved to 28-9 overall and 10-7 in the Ohio Valley Conference. Southeast (18-23, 8-9) fell into sixth place among 10 OVC teams and the Indians lead seventh-place Murray State by just one-half game. The top six finishers qualify for the OVC tournament.

"All the credit goes to Eastern Kentucky. They outpitched us, outdefended us and whacked the ball all over the park," Southeast coach Mark Hogan said. "They were my pick in the preseason to win the league, and they didn't disappoint. They were as tough as any team I've seen."

The Colonels stand only fourth in the conference and probably won't win the regular-season title, but they sure looked like the league's top team Sunday.

EKU banged out 23 hits, held Southeast to just six hits and committed only one error -- that by pitcher Dan Bachman in the first inning of the opener.

The Colonels entered play leading the nation in both batting average (.384) and runs scored (10.5 per game) while ranking high in winning percentage. They were also first in the OVC in earned-run average (4.24) and fielding percentage (.965).

"This is one of the toughest, if not the toughest, places to play in the league," EKU coach Elvis Dominguez said. "It was a great, total team effort."

EKU pitchers Bachman and Chris Grider dominated the Indians as both carried one-hitters into the seventh and final inning.

Bachman (4-1) continued Southeast's troubles against left-handers, allowing three hits in the opener. He struck out two and walked five.

Grider (7-2), a true freshman right-hander who entered Sunday leading the OVC with a 2.22 ERA, lowered that with a masterful three-hit shutout. He fanned six and walked two.

"It's a shock to me we didn't hit better, but the two pitchers were fabulous," Hogan said.

Stephen Carter, eighth nationally in hitting at .441 before Sunday, went 6-for-9 to lead EKU. Chris O'Dell got his league-leading 11th home run in the opener and Neil Sellers belted his eighth homer in the nightcap.

"This is always a tough park to play in so these are two really good wins," said Sellers, an All-American who leads the OVC with 51 RBIs after three more Sunday. "We got two great pitching performances."

No Southeast player had more than one hit Sunday. Bo Jenkins helped the Indians save a little face in the lopsided opener -- EKU had 15 hits -- with a two-run homer in the seventh, his third of the season.

Mike Fitch (3-4) suffered the first-game loss, allowing eight hits and four runs in four innings.

Derek Herbig (3-4) was solid in the nightcap, allowing six hits and three runs in five innings. EKU scored all its runs in the third and that was more than enough for Grider.

Southeast hosts Evansville Thursday night in a non-league game.

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