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Southeast baseball leans on unlikely contributors
Southeast Missouri State's unusual rash of injuries created opportunities for two players who saw little action early in the year.
Casey Jones and Tim Rupp, teammates last season at Forest Park Community College in St. Louis, have taken advantage.
Jones and Rupp both continued their torrid hitting Sunday as the Redhawks routed North Dakota 14-4 to take two of three in the weekend series at Capaha Field.
Southeast improved to 7-8 after the game started nearly two hours late in order to get the field in shape following early morning rain. North Dakota fell to 1-4.
Jones, who had been playing third base but was Southeast's DH on Sunday, went 2 for 5 with two RBIs. He extended his hitting streak to nine games, the longest among the Redhawks this season.
Rupp, who plays second base, went 3 for 3 with two RBIs and two runs scored.
"We didn't skip a beat, which is not normal," said Southeast coach Mark Hogan, whose squad has lost four key position players to injury, three early in the season and one over the weekend. "I feel very fortunate to have those guys in our program.
"Both have done a super job. They have really stepped up."
Jones is Southeast's top hitter with a .487 average. He received just one at-bat in the Redhawks' first six games but has started the past nine contests and has hit safely in every one.
"I feel good. I'm seeing the ball well. Hopefully I can keep it up," Jones said. "I guess I had to step up, but it's terrible with all the injuries. It seems like every other game we have another injury."
Rupp ranks second on the team with a .425 average. He had only one at-bat in the first four games but now has made 11 straight starts.
"Now that I'm getting to play every day, getting a lot of opportunities, I'm taking advantage," Rupp said. "It's real tough to see our guys go through that [all the injuries], but people have to step up."
Plenty of people have been stepping up as the Redhawks continue to thrive at the plate. They are batting a robust .329 as a unit.
Southeast had 13 hits in the series finale to finish the weekend with 40. The Redhawks held North Dakota to 19 hits, including six Sunday.
"We continue to swing the bat well," Hogan said.
Senior Jim Klocke, who normally catches but played third base Sunday, had two hits and two RBIs.
Sophomore first baseman Kody Campbell, an Oran High School product, added two hits.
Junior college transfer left fielder Michael Adamson had two RBIs. So did sophomore catcher Jesse Tierney, who was making his first start of the season.
Juco transfer left-hander Logan Mahon (2-0) had a strong start, allowing three hits and one earned run in six innings. He struck out five and walked three.
Junior Brad LaBruyere from Central and Klocke both threw a scoreless inning. Klocke, Southeast's saves leader last year, saw his first mound action of the season.
The Redhawks, who had one error, came up with several strong defensive plays. The highlights were two spectacular diving catches by junior right fielder Louie Haseltine.
"Overall it wasn't a bad weekend," Hogan said.
Southeast broke a 2-2 tie with a five-run fourth as Jones and Klocke both delivered two-run singles.
The Redhawks cruised from there, although they did receive yet another injury scare when sophomore shortstop Kenton Parmley took a pitch off his helmet in the sixth inning.
Parmley stayed down for a few anxious moments but soon got to his feet and actually remained in the game.
"It's unbelievable what's been happening to us," Hogan said. "Fortunately Kenton seems to be fine."
Southeast continues its 10-game homestand Tuesday with a 3 p.m. contest against NAIA Freed-Hardeman.