Redhawks club Eagles

Monday, May 16, 2005

Southeast improved its position for making the OVC tournament with two wins on Sunday.

Southeast Missourian

COOKEVILLE, Tenn. -- Southeast Missouri State completed a dominating weekend -- and now the Redhawks find themselves in position to qualify for the Ohio Valley Conference Tournament.

The Redhawks' bats continued to sizzle Sunday, as Southeast finished off a three-game sweep of host Tennessee Tech. The Redhawks won the completion of Saturday's suspended game 10-1, then rallied for a wild 16-12 victory in Sunday's regularly scheduled contest.

Southeast, which captured Saturday's series opener 20-10, has now posted five victories in its last six games.

The Redhawks improved to 21-28 overall and evened their OVC record at 12-12, marking the first time they have been at .500 in conference play since the second game of the OVC schedule.

The top six finishers in the 10-team league qualify for the OVC Tournament. Southeast is in a three-way tie for sixth place with Samford and Eastern Illinois, and the Redhawks are just one-half game behind fifth-place Eastern Kentucky, and only one game behind fourth-place Murray State.

Because of various matchups on the final weekend of conference play, Southeast can virtually assure itself of earning an OVC Tournament berth if it sweeps a three-game home series from ninth-place Tennessee-Martin Friday and Saturday. Winning two of three from the Skyhawks could also get the Redhawks in, depending on other results

Offense, a sore spot for Southeast most of the year, continued to be a major key to the Redhawks' late-season surge as they ripped the OVC's last-place team for 46 runs and 48 hits, including season highs of 21 hits and 20 runs during Saturday's series-opening rout.

Although Tech (12-39, 5-18) scored 23 runs of its own in the series, Southeast also had some solid pitching performances, most notably from Jamie McAlister.

McAlister started the second game of Saturday's doubleheader, which was suspended by rain with Southeast leading 4-1 in the fifth inning. He came back and took the mound again Sunday when the contest resumed, retiring all six batters he faced.

Overall, McAlister (3-6) allowed three hits and one run, with three strikeouts and three walks. He was removed after six innings after Southeast broke things wide open with a five-run sixth. Andy Johnson finished up with a perfect seventh.

Sunday's regularly-scheduled game was much more suspenseful as the Eagles grabbed an 8-3 lead after four innings of the seven-inning contest.

But the Redhawks sent 15 batters to the plate during a 10-run fifth inning that put them up 13-8. Southeast tacked on three more runs in the seventh to lead 16-9 and survived a three-run Tech rally in the bottom of the frame.

Johnson (1-3) worked three innings in relief for the win, allowing three hits and four runs.

Southeast had 27 more hits in Sunday's two games, including five by Freddy Lopez, who also drove in six runs.

Eric Horstman had four hits and scored eight runs; Brady Noll had four hits and four RBIs; Bo Jenkins had three hits and scored six runs; Jordan Payne had three hits and scored five runs; Frankie Montiel had three hits and four RBIs; and Keith Wollis, filling in for injured freshman first baseman James Clayton, added three hits.

Payne, who tied a school record with six hits during Saturday's opener, went 9-13 in the series, with nine runs scored.

Horstman was 7-for-12 in the series, with nine RBIs and 11 runs scored. He extended his hitting streak to 19 games, and has reached base safely in 41 consecutive games, which is the nation's fifth-longest streak.

Lopez was 7-for-16 with nine RBIs; Noll was 6-for-13 with five RBIs and five runs scored; and Jenkins was 5-for-11 with five RBIs and nine runs scored.

Prior to closing out OVC play against Tennessee-Martin, the Redhawks have their final two non-conference games at Southwest Missouri State, with contests at 7 p.m. Tuesday and noon Wednesday.

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