Redhawks hope to keep bats warm

Tuesday, April 21, 2009
Southeast Missouri State's Justin Wheeler, right, congratulates teammate Kenton Parmley on a home run adding the two winning runs to the scoreboard in the eighth inning against Northern Illinois Friday at Capaha Park. (ELIZABETH DODD ~ edodd@semissourian.com)

Southeast plays a pair of nonconference games after scoring 27 runs in a three-game sweep of SIUE.

Southeast Missouri State's offense woke up during a three-game nonconference sweep of Southern llinois-Edwardsville.

The Redhawks hope to keep their bats alive over the next two days as they face more nonleague tests.

Southeast hosts Evansville at 3 p.m. today and Arkansas State at 6:30 p.m. Wednesday, when Bluff City Beer will provide free food and beverages.

The Redhawks are continuing a stretch of six consecutive nonconference home games over a nine-day period.

Southeast resumes Ohio Valley Conference play this weekend with a three-game series at Austin Peay, beginning with Saturday's doubleheader.

"Hopefully we can keep the momentum going heading into the weekend," Southeast coach Mark Hogan said.

The Redhawks, 22-14 overall and a second-place 9-3 in the nine-team OVC -- they trail Eastern Illinois by just one-half game -- picked up momentum over the weekend.

Southeast scored nine runs in every game against future conference opponent SIUE. The Redhawks banged out 25 hits in Saturday's doubleheader, including three home runs and seven doubles.

"We've been kind of up and down, inconsistent," senior left fielder Justin Wheeler said of Southeast's offense that had been scuffling in recent weeks. "This offense can do great things."

Wheeler had two homers and nine RBIs in the series. He leads Southeast with 11 homers and 40 RBIs on the season.

Senior first baseman Matt Wagner homered and had six RBIs in Saturday's doubleheader. He is right behind Wheeler with 10 home runs.

"It should be a confidence builder for us," Wagner said of the offense vs. SIUE. "Hopefully we can keep it going."

Added Hogan: "It was more like the offense we've seen in the past, the way we drove the ball."

Evansville is 18-19 overall and 6-9 in the Missouri Valley Conference, but the Purple Aces have won five of their last six games.

Arkansas State, which beat Southeast 12-1 on April 1 in Jonesboro, Ark., is 16-22 overall and 7-11 in the Sun Belt Conference. The Red Wolves play at OVC member Tennessee-Martin today before visiting Southeast.

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