Season-best streak ends for Indians

Monday, May 17, 2004

Southeast Missouri State University's experience with a winning record was short-lived.

The Indians, one day after moving above .500 for just the second time this season by sweeping a doubleheader from Tennessee Tech, lost their home finale as the Eagles exploded late for an 11-4 victory Sunday.

Southeast (24-24, 13-10) fell back into a fourth-place tie among 10 Ohio Valley Conference squads. The Indians, who saw their season-best six-game winning streak end, have locked up a spot in the six-team OVC tournament.

"We had several opportunities, but give Tennessee Tech credit," Southeast coach Mark Hogan said.

The Indians wasted numerous scoring chances when the outcome was still hanging in the balance, stranding 13 runners. The contest was tied 1-1 after six innings, but the Eagles went ahead 3-1 in the seventh and then broke things open with an eight-run eighth.

Although the Eagles (15-28, 10-14) have virtually been eliminated from contention for an OVC tournament berth, they were able to bounce back from Saturday's tight 5-3 and 3-2 losses.

"SEMO is a good team. They always have been," Tech first-year coach Matt Bragga said. "I was proud of our guys for battling. They didn't throw in the towel."

Battling particularly hard was pitcher Collins Hughes, Tech's lone senior. The right-hander overcame control problems to work eight gritty innings as he threw a whopping 172 pitches.

Hughes (3-3), who carried a four-hitter into the eighth before surrendering four hits and two runs, struck out nine and walked seven.

"It's mainly come down to pride for us, and it felt good to bounce back with a win today," Hughes said. Asked about his high pitch count, he smiled and added, "It's coming down late in the year, and it's time to let it all hang out. I felt I could have finished the game but I think coach wanted to let another pitcher get some work."

Said Hogan, "Hughes has a great arm and he did a great job. I think both pitchers did."

Southeast starter Anthony Maupin matched Hughes most of the way before the Eagles finally got to him late. In 7 1/3 innings, Maupin (6-6) allowed 10 hits and seven runs (four earned), with seven strikeouts and two walks.

"I thought Maupin threw well," Hogan said.

Tech had 14 hits, including three more from JD Druckenmiller, who entered the weekend batting just .207 but had seven hits in the series. Brent Bilodeau homered while Grant French drove in four runs.

Southeast had 10 hits, led by Frankie Montiel and Ernie Bracamonte with two each. Montiel got his team-leading 19th double of the season.

For the third straight game, Tech grabbed an early lead with a fourth-inning run. Southeast tied it in the fifth as Bracamonte walked and scored on Montiel's double to left-center.

That's the way it stood until the seventh, when the Eagles went ahead for good on an RBI double by Kenny Stiles and a sacrifice fly by French.

Things fell apart for Southeast in the eighth as Tech tagged Maupin and reliever Matt Carter for eight runs on seven hits, although seven of the runs were unearned thanks to an error early in the inning that marked the Indians' lone miscue of the game.

French's three-run double and Bilodeau's two-run homer were the big blows of the explosion that opened up an 11-1 lead.

Southeast countered with a two-run eighth -- Eric Horstman and Bracamonte had RBI singles -- and another run in the ninth on freshman Andres Fernandez's sacrifice fly. But the Indians fell far short.

The Indians play their final non-conference game Wednesday night, visiting the University of Missouri. Southeast ends the regular season Friday and Saturday with a three-game series at Tennessee-Martin.

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