Haseltine's slam ignites Redhawks' offense

Wednesday, March 24, 2010
Southeast Missouri State teammates congratulate Louie Haseltine after he hit a grand slam against Saint Louis University during Tuesday's game at Capaha Field. (KRISTIN EBERTS)

Southeast exacted some revenge against SLU

Southeast Missouri State's red-hot offense had been held scoreless when Louie Haseltine stepped to the plate in the bottom of the fourth inning.

With the bases loaded and nobody out, Haseltine assumed Saint Louis University pitcher Alex Alemann would try to get ahead with a fastball.

"I was sitting first-pitch fastball and luckily he left one up," said Haseltine, Southeast's junior right fielder.

Haseltine assumed correctly and the pitch didn't stay around for long as he crushed a no-doubt grand slam well over the left-field wall. That erased a 2-0 deficit Tuesday and paved the way for the Redhawks' sixth straight win, 8-4 at Capaha Field.

"When Louie comes up in those spots, he doesn't waste time," Southeast coach Mark Hogan said.

Haseltine's homer, his team-leading fourth of the season, put the Redhawks ahead for good as they improved to 8-1 on a 10-game homestand that concludes today at 6:30 p.m. against Arkansas State.

Southeast is 11-1 at Capaha Field as the Redhawks pushed their overall record to 12-8. SLU (11-10) beat the Redhawks 10-6 on March 2 in St. Louis.

"It was a real good win for us, good to get them back," Haseltine said. "Coming off a good weekend [a three-game sweep of Valparaiso], against an in-state rival, it's good to keep the momentum going."

Junior center fielder Blake Slattery, a Central High School graduate, also homered for Southeast. Slattery's second of the year, a solo shot in the sixth inning, made it 5-2.

"It's a big win for us against a good team," said Slattery, who was hit by a pitch around the helmet during the eighth inning but quickly got up and stayed in the game. "I got hit in my ear, up top, but I'm all right."

While the Redhawks had 10 hits -- they lead the Ohio Valley Conference with a .338 team batting average -- perhaps most impressive was their pitching.

SLU has a potent offense that leads the Atlantic 10 Conference in hits, homers and runs. The Billikens average more than eight runs per game.

But four Southeast hurlers held the Bills to just eight hits total and only two runs over the final seven innings. That's despite the fact the Redhawks did not use any of their top three starters who will go this weekend when Southeast begins its OVC schedule at Morehead State.

"All the pitchers did great," Slattery said.

Junior college transfer right-hander Nick Thomas, who began the season as a reliever, was impressive in his second start of the season.

Thomas allowed a homer to Cody Cotter leading off the game and a solo shot to J.D. Dunn leading off the third inning.

But other than that, Thomas shut down the Bills over his five innings, giving up just two runs and three hits. He struck out two and walked none.

"I made a few mistakes," he said. "You make a mistake and they'll pound it."

Thomas notched his third win in eight days, including a five-inning start the previous Tuesday and a relief stint over the weekend in which he retired two batters. He is now second in wins in the OVC.

"I've always been a starter. That's kind of my comfort," Thomas said. "But I'll do whatever they tell me to do."

Hogan said Thomas easily could have pitched more than five innings but he might be needed this weekend.

"That's two really good starts in a row for him," Hogan said. "He wanted to continue but we need him as fresh as possible for the weekend."

Juco transfer right-hander Jacob Wente allowed a two-run homer to Ben Braaten in the seventh inning that pulled SLU within 5-4.

Southeast's top two late-inning relievers then closed the door on the Bills.

Juco transfer left-hander Michael Adamson, Southeast's left fielder, came on in the eighth inning with the Redhawks still clinging to their 5-4 lead.

With two outs, SLU slugger Danny Brock -- who leads the A-10 with 10 home runs and 36 RBIs, and homered twice in the earlier meeting with Southeast -- singled and advanced to second on an error in the outfield.

Adamson escaped the jam with his second strikeout of the frame as he fanned SLU cleanup hitter Jon Myers.

"That was really big," Hogan said.

Southeast added three eighth-inning insurance runs before freshman Shae Simmons from Scott City closed out the victory.

Simmons, a right-hander who is the Redhawks' hardest thrower, struck out two and allowed a hit in the ninth. He has given up just four hits in 14 innings with 18 strikeouts. He lowered his ERA to 1.93.

"I had Shae up when it was 5-4 and his arm was ready," Hogan said. "He threw great again."

Haseltine, Adamson and senior catcher Jim Klocke all had two hits.

Juco transfer third baseman Casey Jones, who entered the day as the OVC's leading hitter, extended his hitting streak to 14 straight games.

Jones, who saw his average fall from .482 to .459 after going 1 for 5, began play with the nation's 17th-longest active hitting streak.

Tonight's opponent, Arkansas State (12-8), should pose another serious threat to Southeast's winning streak. The Red Wolves lead the Sun Belt Conference with a 3.47 ERA and they are hitting a solid .313.

"Statistically they're probably one of the best teams we've faced," Hogan said.

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