Redhawks trump Aces with wild-card LaBruyere

Wednesday, April 22, 2009 ~ Updated 12:12 AM
Southeast Missouri State's Nick Harris steals third base during Tuesday's game against Evansville at Capaha Field. (KIT DOYLE ~ kdoyle@semissourian.com)

Southeast defeated Evansville 9-4 with a scoreless5 2/3 innings relief appearance.

Evansville's offense was humming Tuesday with four runs and six hits in less than three innings.

Brad LaBruyere put a stop to that, paving the way for Southeast Missouri State's fourth consecutive nonleague victory, 9-4 at Capaha Field.

The Redhawks are 23-14 -- including a second-place 9-3 in the Ohio Valley Conference -- while the Purple Aces are 18-20, including 6-9 in the Missouri Valley Conference.

"It's good to get a midweek win," senior left fielder Justin Wheeler said after Southeast snapped a six-game losing streak in those types of games.

KIT DOYLE kdoyle@semissourian.com (Southeast Missouri State second baseman Tony Spencer fields a grounder during Tuesday's game against Evansville at Capaha Field.)

LaBruyere pitched a career-high 5 2/3 innings as he improved to 3-1. He allowed no runs and three hits, while striking out three and walking one.

"Brad was tremendous. He shut them down," Southeast coach Mark Hogan said. "I think this is one of his best, if not the best, games he's had for us."

LaBruyere relieved junior starter John Salazar in the third inning. Evansville led 4-3 and had two runners on with one out.

LaBruyere, a sophomore from Central High School, escaped that jam and dominated the Aces from there.

"Coming out of the bullpen, you always just want to keep your team in it and wait for the offense to come through, which they do most of the time," LaBruyere said.

LaBruyere, who primarily has been used in middle relief during his college career, has had several solid performances this season.

But rough outings during his only two starts of the year in mid-March inflated considerably LaBruyere's ERA.

LaBruyere steadily has been bringing down the ERA. Tuesday marked his fourth straight scoreless appearance, spanning 10 1/3 innings.

"I'm not trying to do too much, just trying to throw strikes and keep the ball down," said LaBruyere, who has dropped his ERA to 6.46.

LaBruyere said he primarily threw fastballs and let his defense do the rest.

"I just wanted to get ground balls," said LaBruyere, whose previous career-high for innings was five last year as a freshman.

After LaBruyere shut down Evansville, two big fifth-inning errors by the normally slick-fielding Aces -- who entered with a strong .970 fielding percentage -- turned the game in Southeast's favor.

With one out in a 4-4 tie, junior catcher Jim Klocke walked and moved to third on freshman shortstop Kenton Parmley's two-out single.

Junior center fielder Nick Harris hit the most routine of grounders right at second baseman Trentt Copeland, but the ball scooted between Copeland's legs as Klocke scored the go-ahead run and Parmley advanced to third.

Sophomore third baseman Trenton Moses from Advance then sent a routine grounder to third, but Cody Fick threw wild as Parmley scored. Harris and Moses each moved up a base.

Senior second baseman Tony Spencer followed with a two-run single and Wheeler added an RBI single to complete the five-run frame, with all the runs being unearned.

"That was kind of a mix and match inning for us," Hogan said.

Still, the Redhawks had 15 hits to give them 40 hits in their last three games. Southeast has scored nine runs in each of its past four contests.

"We've got some guys who seem to be getting their timing down," said Hogan, whose squad had been scuffling at the plate.

Wheeler continued to wield a hot bat by going 4-for-4 with two RBIs.

On Wheeler's fourth and final hit -- in the big fifth inning -- he rolled his ankle on the swing and went down coming out of the box before reaching first base.

Hogan removed Wheeler as a precautionary measure, but he seemed to be fine later.

"I went down just to be safe," Wheeler said. "I told coach I could have stayed in. I iced it and I feel fine now."

Klocke went 3-for-4 with two doubles and Parmley went 3-for-3 with his first collegiate triple. Spencer added two hits.

Junior left-hander Greg Hendrix finished the win with a scoreless ninth inning.

Southeast plays its sixth straight nonconference home game during a nine-day period when Arkansas State visits at 6:30 p.m. today.

The Red Wolves (16-23, 7-11 Sun Belt Conference) routed Southeast 12-1 on April 1 in Jonesboro, Ark.

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