Leigh gives strong effort in opener

Sunday, April 5, 2009

James Leigh admitted he did not have one of his best outings.

Southeast Missouri State's senior left-hander was still able to improve his record to 5-0 by winning the first game of Saturday's doubleheader against Jacksonville State.

Leigh gave up three solo home runs in the first four innings, but settled down to pitch 6 1/3 frames in the Redhawks' 18-4 victory. JSU claimed the nightcap 8-7.

"It was ugly at the beginning," Leigh said. "But you can't argue with the win."

Leigh, tied for second for the most wins in the Ohio Valley Conference, allowed four runs on seven hits and four walks. He struck out eight.

"I felt like I got stronger [as the game went on]," Leigh said. "I still had my legs under me."

Leigh said it's easier to pitch knowing he has such a high-powered offense behind him.

From a 4-4 tie, Southeast scored six runs in the fourth and eight more in the sixth to blow it open.

"With this offense, if we can just keep it close," Leigh said. "I realized I just have to hold the game down."

Leigh pitched the seven-inning second game of Southeast's first two Ohio Valley Conference series.

Southeast coach Mark Hogan moved Leigh to Saturday's nine-inning opener, which prevented Leigh from matching up with JSU All-American Ben Tootle, one of the nation's top pitching prospects.

"I wanted to throw against a premier pitcher in the league," Leigh said. "But coach thought this gave us the best chance to win two games [Saturday].

"I'll do whatever is best for the team."

Sophomore Brad LaBruyere from Central High School worked 1 2/3 scoreless frames in relief of Leigh, striking out three. Sophomore Corey Harness finished off with a perfect ninth inning.


* Southeast had 22 hits in the doubleheader, compared to 21 for JSU.

* Junior catcher Jim Klocke went 4-for-9 to lead Southeast. He homered and drove in five runs.

* Senior second baseman Tony Spencer also homered.

for the Redhawks.

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