Redhawks deal series loss to Gamecocks

Monday, April 6, 2009 ~ Updated 11:57 PM
Southeast Missouri State's Kenton Parmley singles in a run against Jacksonville State during the fourth inning Sunday at Capaha Field. (Fred Lynch)

Southeast regained its momentum Sunday with a 7-4 victory and ended JSU's run of 14 straight OVC series wins.

Tony Spencer said the Southeast Missouri State baseball team was down after letting a six-run lead slip away Saturday.

But the Redhawks were far from out.

Southeast punctuated an impressive weekend with Sunday's 7-4 win against perennial Ohio Valley Conference power Jacksonville State.

The home victory gave the Redhawks the series win, two games to one, and allowed them to erase the bitter taste of their 8-7 loss in the nightcap of Saturday's doubleheader.

"We really bounced back," said Spencer, Southeast's senior second baseman. "Our goal coming into the series was to take two out of three."

Southeast's series victory came with some historical significance.

JSU came to Cape Girardeau riding what was believed to be an OVC-record 14 straight series wins. The last time the Gamecocks lost a conference set was in 2007.

Southeast Missouri State's Jesse Tierney lays down a squeeze bunt that scored a run during the fourth inning Sunday at Capaha Field. The bunt gave Southeast a 4-0 lead against Jacksonville State. (Fred Lynch)

The defending OVC regular-season champion Gamecocks posted a conference-record 23 league wins last season. Since joining the OVC in 2004, JSU has nabbed two OVC regular-season titles and two tournament crowns.

"I'm proud of the whole ballclub for the effort they put forth this weekend," Southeast coach Mark Hogan said. "I really admire the club. It's one of the most inspiring wins I've been around in our program.

"Yesterday we walked off the field thinking we could have swept. It was a tough loss, but the way we came back today. ... I couldn't have asked much more than what I got this weekend."

Southeast rolled in Saturday's opener 18-4 and then knocked out expected first-round draft pick Ben Tootle after four innings to grab a 7-1 lead in the nightcap.

JSU's rally handed the Redhawks their first conference loss. Then Southeast had to wait out a two-hour rain delay before starting Sunday's series finale.

A pitch strikes Southeast Missouri State's Matt Wagner in the knee during the Redhawks' four-run fourth inning.

"We kind of had a sour taste in our mouth," Southeast senior left fielder Justin Wheeler said. "It was an awesome comeback for us today."

Southeast improved to 18-10 overall and 8-1 in OVC play as the Redhawks moved into a virtual tie for first place with Eastern Illinois. The Panthers, 7-0 in the league, had their Sunday game with Murray State rained out.

"If you had told me we'd be 8-1, I wouldn't even have shown up," Hogan said. "I'd take 8-1 and just go to the next weekend.'

There were plenty of heroes for Southeast on Sunday.

Spencer delivered the game-winning hit, a two-out, bases-loaded single in the bottom of the eighth inning to snap a 4-4 tie after JSU had rallied from a 4-0 deficit.

Wheeler followed with a two-run double that put Southeast up 7-4 and gave the Redhawks some breathing room.

Southeast's pitching made sure those big blows stood up.

Junior college transfer Kyle Gumieny, celebrating his 21st birthday, worked into the eighth inning for the first time this season. He allowed seven hits and four runs -- just two earned -- with three strikeouts and one walk.

"It's a shame we didn't play better defense behind him," said Hogan, whose squad committed four errors. "He could have finished the game.

"But he pitched a great game. Happy birthday to him."

Gumieny, who did not get a decision, walked his only batter of the day to lead off the eighth inning.

On came another junior college transfer, John Salazar, who has been among Southeast's most reliable relievers.

After junior catcher Jim Klocke threw out the leadoff batter trying to steal, Salazar walked two batters and hit a man to load the bases with one out.

But Salazar induced a home-to-first double play that preserved the 4-4 deadlock.

After Southeast went ahead with three runs in the bottom of the eighth, Salazar retired the Gamecocks in the ninth. He improved to 2-2 to go along with one save.

"It's a big win for us," Salazar said.

Southeast returns to action 3 p.m. Tuesday with a nonconference game at Southern Illinois-Carbondale. The Redhawks resume OVC play Friday at Murray State.

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