Southeast Missouri State's offense continued to scuffle while Central Michigan's pitching continued to dominate as the Chippewas won the opener of a three-game series.
CMU (10-5) posted its seventh consecutive victory and lowered its already impressive 2.82 earned-run average with a 4-2 victory Friday afternoon at Capaha Field. The squads play again at 1 p.m. today.
The Redhawks (6-10) suffered their third straight loss as they have scored just seven runs in the past three games, although their batting average actually went up two points, to a still sub-par .249.
"It's frustrating right now," Southeast senior Eric Horstman said. "But we've got good hitters and we know it will come.
"Our pitching has been really good, and once we start hitting, we'll be fine. We just have to all stick together."
Said Southeast coach Mark Hogan, "We're just in a team slump right now. I still think we'll be all right. I still think we're going to hit, but it's just miserable right now."
Right-hander Ty Dunham, who entered the game carrying a 2.57 ERA -- the highest among CMU's three-man starting rotation -- held Southeast scoreless through five innings and to just one run through eight innings before allowing a leadoff homer to junior Jordan Payne in the ninth.
James Ricchio came on and, despite allowing a two-out single to Horstman as the tying run came to the plate, was able to nail down the victory.
"I wanted to finish. I just made a bad pitch and the guy capitalized on it," said Dunham, who struck out eight, walked three and allowed eight hits as he improved to 2-1.
Southeast also continued to receive solid pitching. Starter Joey Evans (1-2), a freshman right-hander, allowed eight hits and three runs in five-plus innings, with five strikeouts and one walk.
Junior right-hander Jamie McAlister, who threw three shutout innings against 14th-ranked Mississippi Tuesday, allowed three hits and one run in 2 2/3 innings. He has Southeast's top ERA at 2.88. Junior left-hander Josh Parham finished up with 1 1/3 hitless innings.
"I thought Evans threw real well. He did a terrific job for us. McAlister threw really well again, and Parham pitched well," Hogan said. "Again, we had enough pitching to win."
The Redhawks had nine hits, led by Horstman and senior Freddy Lopez with two each. Freshman Jim Clayton had Southeast's other RBI, on a sacrifice fly in the sixth that cut CMU's lead to 4-1.
"Usually with nine hits you score more than two runs," Hogan said. "It's just tough for us to put anything together right now."
CMU had 11 hits, led by Kurtis Wells, who homered and doubled twice. His one-out solo blast in the second inning gave the Chippewas a 1-0 lead that they would not relinquish.
J.T. Jones had two hits and two RBIs for CMU, while David Latour and Tyler Stovall each added two hits.
With CMU scheduled to throw right-hander Jason Cairns (2-1, 2.22 ERA) and left-hander Jayson Ruhlman (3-1, 2.36) in the final two games of the series, things don't figure to get any easier for Southeast's offense.
"We showed some signs in the late innings of breaking out of it, and maybe it will continue tomorrow," Hogan said. "But it won't be easy."