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Redhawks wrap up 9-1 homestand with 6-4 win
On a Southeast Missouri State pitching staff that struggled last year, Corey Harness had the best ERA at 4.55 and finished the season strong.
Harness hasn't had many opportunities so far in 2010 as Southeast has upgraded significantly its staff after bringing in a host of newcomers.
Harness had been unimpressive with a 9.64 ERA in just 4 2/3 innings when he had gotten the ball this year.
But Harness made the most of his second start this season, firing five shutout innings Wednesday for his first collegiate win as Southeast notched its seventh straight victory, 6-4 over visiting Arkansas State.
"That was great. Corey threw just like that at the end of last year," junior right fielder Louie Haseltine said.
A crowd announced at just more than 1,100 showed up for Southeast's only night game of the season at Capaha Field. Those fans saw the Redhawks finish their 10-game homestand 9-1 as they improved to 13-8 overall.
"Congratulations to our guys for a great homestand. I'm really proud of them," Southeast coach Mark Hogan said. "And what a crowd we had."
Harness, a junior right-hander, improved to 1-1 as he allowed four hits while striking out four and walking two. He was 0-1 last year and 0-2 as a sophomore.
"I felt great today. I went out real confident in my stuff," said Harness, who lowered his ERA to 4.66. "I got ahead and stayed ahead. I was really locating my offspeed stuff."
Southeast, after last season's 6.76 ERA that was among the worst in the Ohio Valley Conference and by far the worst in Hogan's first 15 seasons at Southeast, now leads the league at 4.82.
Many of the newcomers have excelled, leaving few chances for some of the returning hurlers.
"It's a good problem to have," Harness said. "Everybody is doing well. You just wait for your opportunity."
Despite the impressive work by Harness, he had to sweat out several anxious moments before being assured of his first career win.
ASU (12-9), trailing 6-0, scored two seventh-inning runs off junior right-hander Jon Dicus then made things really interesting in the eighth.
Junior left-hander Jordan Underwood, a conference starter, came on to get some work before this weekend's OVC-opening series at Morehead State.
Underwood allowed a leadoff double then walked two straight to load the bases. That was the end of his night.
Junior two-way player Michael Adamson came in to pitch from left field. Adamson, a left-hander who is one of Southeast's top late-inning relievers, hit the first batter he faced to force in a run and leave the bases full with nobody out.
Adamson somehow escaped further trouble, getting a pop foul, a strikeout and a fly ball to left in which junior Greg Dambach -- Adamson's defensive replacement -- made a sliding catch toward the line.
"Jordan just didn't have his control, but what can you say about Adamson, inheriting a terrible situation. He's a warrior," Hogan said. "And Dambach, coming off the bench cold, made a great catch, the play of the game."
Things got hairy again in the ninth as Adamson issued a leadoff walk and hit the next batter. He got a fly ball to right, with a runner advancing to third.
With right-handed closer Shae Simmons, a freshman from Scott City, unavailable after several recent outings, Southeast turned to senior All-American catcher Jim Klocke, who played third base Wednesday.
Klocke, Southeast's closer last year, had pitched just one inning this season. The right-hander hit a batter to load the bases, got a strikeout looking, walked in a run to make it 6-4 then got a ground ball for his first save this year after having seven last season.
"When the game's on the line, it's where I want to be," Klocke said of pitching.
Said Hogan: "We saw again tonight what Jim's capable of doing. It got a little hairy at the end, but we pulled it out. We just got a lot of contributions."
Southeast's red-hot offense, which entered play ranked 30th nationally in batting average at .338, also did its part after being held down early by an ASU pitching staff that was 20th nationally with a 3.47 ERA.
Haseltine broke a scoreless tie by leading off the fifth inning with a home run to the opposite field in right. It was Haseltine's team-high fifth homer of the season and second in two days. His grand slam highlighted Tuesday's 8-4 win over Saint Louis University.
The Redhawks carried that 1-0 lead into the sixth inning, when they exploded for five runs.
Klocke delivered a two-run single and junior center fielder Blake Slattery got an RBI infield single on a squeeze bunt to highlight the frame.
Southeast needed all of that 6-0 cushion to hold on.
"Another nail-biter," Haseltine said. "It seems to be our style."
Haseltine, Klocke and Adamson all had two of Southeast's eight hits as the Redhawks were held to single-digit hits for the first time on the homestand.
No matter. The Redhawks have matched their longest winning streak since 2007 as they prepare to begin OVC play.
"It's always nice to get on a good streak going into conference," Klocke said.