Homer-happy Redhawks sweep

Sunday, March 29, 2009
ELIZABETH DODD ~ edoddsemissourian.com
Southeast's Matt Wagner celebrates with his teammates after hitting the winning home run during the 10th inning of the first game Saturday at Capaha Field.

Southeast Missouri State knew an improved Tennessee-Martin baseball team would not be an easy touch Saturday.

The Skyhawks weren't -- but the Redhawks still swept a doubleheader to extend their winning streak.

"We were lucky," Southeast junior catcher Jim Klocke said.

Not that the Redhawks were about to complain following the two wins at Capaha Field that kept them undefeated in Ohio Valley Conference play.

Southeast rallied for a 6-5, 10-inning victory in the opener that was scheduled for nine innings, then held on 9-7 in the seven-inning nightcap.

ELIZABETH DODD ~ edoddsemissourian.com
Southeast outfielder Tyrell Cummings laughs after sliding on the wet field to make a catch against UT-Martin during the sixth inning of the first game Saturday at Capaha Field.

The Redhawks, 15-8 overall and 5-0 in the OVC, have won five straight. They took sole possession of first place in the conference.

UTM (9-12, 0-2) was playing its first OVC games of the season.

"Those guys showed a lot of heart," Southeast senior right fielder Tyrell Cummings said. "They hadn't had a conference game yet. ... You knew they were going to come with it."

The Skyhawks never have finished higher than seventh in the OVC since joining the conference in 1993. Since 1995, they have been either last or tied for last in the league all but two seasons.

But UTM, which won just 10 games in 2008, did not look like an OVC doormat as the Skyhawks outhit Southeast 22-21 and committed just one error compared to four by the Redhawks.

"I was impressed with what they did," Southeast coach Mark Hogan said.

UTM's only error of the day -- along with a Southeast hustle play -- gave the Redhawks the opening they needed in the first game and paved the way for the sweep.

Coty Green controlled Southeast's potent offense for most of the opener. He carried a 5-2 lead into the eighth inning and appeared ready to finish off the Redhawks.

With one out, Cummings' routine ground ball to second base was booted by Scott Gladstone.

Sophomore third baseman Trenton Moses then bounced a potential double-play ball to short. But Moses, hustling all the way, barely beat the relay to first base to keep the inning alive.

Junior center fielder Nick Harris was hit by a pitch and sophomore DH Louie Haseltine followed with a three-run, game-tying homer to left-center field on a 2-2 pitch.

"Luckily he [Green] left one up," Haseltine said.

Green departed after eight innings, and the Redhawks won it in the 10th on senior first baseman Matt Wagner's towering leadoff homer to right.

"We couldn't get much going all game off him [Green]," said Wagner following his eighth home run of the season and the first walk-off shot of his three-year Southeast career. "It was a big win."

Klocke, in his first season as a college pitcher, continued to shine on the mound. He worked the final two innings for the victory to improve to 2-0 after senior Ryan Poole -- Southeast's third of four hurlers -- fired two impressive scoreless frames.

And Klocke's work on the mound wasn't done.

UTM fell behind 7-1 after two innings of the nightcap and trailed 9-5 entering the seventh.

Senior left-hander James Leigh (4-0) gave the Redhawks six solid innings -- allowing three earned runs -- before Poole ran into trouble in the seventh during his second appearance of the day.

A double, single and an error made it 9-6 and left runners on first and third with nobody out.

Klocke again came out from behind the plate to take the mound.

"The game got close. I looked at coach and told him I was ready to go in," Klocke said.

Klocke allowed a sacrifice fly and a single to leave runners on first and second, but nailed down the victory by getting Drew Mason to ground into a double play.

It was Klocke's OVC-leading sixth save of the season, which already has moved him into third place on the program's single-season list. He is also tied for fourth in career saves at Southeast.

"I wish we could get a day off for the kid," Hogan said. "But he wants the ball. He loves it. He's a competitor and he's extremely talented."

Klocke, one of the OVC's premier hitters, has a 1.32 ERA in 13 2/3 innings. He has allowed eight hits and two walks while striking out 12.

"I want the ball when the game's on the line," Klocke said.

The Redhawks' offense was highlighted by the long ball.

All of Southeast's runs scored on homers as the Redhawks had six on the day. They have 33 this season, second-most in the OVC, after leading the league last year.

Cummings homered twice in the nightcap, a three-run shot in the first inning to put Southeast ahead for good and a two-run blast in the fifth that made it 9-5.

He has six home runs on the season.

Senior left fielder Justin Wheeler's second-inning grand slam in the nightcap gave the Redhawks a 7-1 lead and was his OVC-leading ninth long ball of the season, just ahead of Wagner's eight.

Freshman shortstop Kenton Parmley joined Haseltine in homering in the opener.

Cummings went 5-for-8 on the day, while Parmley was 4-for-7 and Haseltine added three hits.

UTM got a huge performance from freshman Jordan Owen, who went 5-for-7 with two homers and five RBIs.

"One through nine, they've got a really solid lineup and their guy in the first game [Green] threw outstanding," Hogan said. "We were really lucky. In a lot of ways they outplayed us [in the opener]."

The Redhawks didn't mind, as long as they had a 5-0 OVC record to show for their efforts heading into today's 1 p.m. series finale.

"It's always good to get off to a fast start," Cummings said.

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