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Redhawks end skid, tie series with CMU
Southeast Missouri State still had trouble scoring runs Saturday, but the Redhawks showed plenty of overall life in knotting their series with Central Michigan.
The Redhawks banged out 11 hits and continued their strong pitching, as they posted a 4-3 victory at Capaha Field.
Southeast (7-10), which ended a three-game losing streak, and CMU (10-6), which had a seven-game winning streak snapped, will close out their three-game set at 1 p.m. today. The Chippewas captured Friday's opener 4-2.
"Central Mich-igan is a very good team, and it's been a heck of a series so far," Southeast coach Mark Hogan said. "This is a really big win for us."
Hogan was encouraged by Southeast's struggling offense, which he said showed signs of breaking out in batting practice and continued in the afternoon against CMU's pitching staff, which entered the series with a 2.82 earned-run average.
"We looked a lot more relaxed, and we hit the ball better," Hogan said. "I still think we're going to be fine because we've got good hitters. But it's been a tough stretch for us. We've been playing really good competition."
Junior right-hander Andy Johnson allowed five hits and three runs -- two earned -- in five-plus innings, with two strikeouts and four walks.
"Andy gave us a great start for five innings," Hogan said.
Junior left-hander Josh Parham, a Jackson High School product, earned his first Southeast victory with two innings of scoreless relief. Parham (1-1) gave up one hit, while fanning three and walking two.
"I was kind of disappointed, because I thought Andy pitched really well and deserved the win," said Parham, who allowed one of Johnson's inherited runners to score in the sixth inning when CMU forged a 3-3 tie. "But it's just nice to get a win, and maybe this can really get us going."
All-American closer Brad Smith, a senior right-hander, nailed down the victory after Southeast went ahead in the seventh. In two shutout innings, he allowed one hit and fanned two as he earned his second save.
Smith, Southeast's single-season and career saves leader, had 11 saves last year but has had precious few opportunities so far this season. Despite being unscored upon in his last five appearances, he had not faced a save situation since the season's fourth game on Feb. 25, when he converted his only other chance.
"I loved it. It's the first time I've pitched in a week, and I was probably more pumped up than I should have been," Smith said. "But it just felt great to win. Hopefully we can build on this. Once our hitting comes around, we'll be an amazing team."
Senior third baseman Eric Horstman continued his recent hot hitting, going 2-for-3 with two runs scored. Horstman also turned in the game's defensive gem, a diving catch of a foul pop fly with two on and two outs in the seventh that retired CMU slugger Kurtis Wells.
"This is a big win for us, and now maybe we can get on a roll," Horstman said.
Senior second baseman Bo Jenkins and senior left fielder Freddy Lopez also had two hits apiece for Southeast, while junior first baseman Jordan Payne delivered a two-run double in the fifth that put the Redhawks ahead 3-2.
After CMU tied it in the sixth, Southeast scored the winning run in the seventh. Horstman led off with a single, was sacrificed to second by Payne, went to third on senior shortstop Ernie Bracamonte's single and came home on senior center fielder Frankie Montiel's sacrifice fly.