Redhawks take OVC break, visit Nebraska for series

Friday, May 7, 2010

Southeast will play three games this weekend against the Big 12 school

The Southeast Missouri State baseball team sees its final nonconference action of the season this weekend with a three-game series at Nebraska of the Big 12 Conference.

Southeast and the Cornhuskers square off at 6:35 p.m. today, 2:05 p.m. Saturday and 12:05 p.m. Sunday in Lincoln, Neb. It will be the first meeting between the programs.

"We're looking forward to it," junior second baseman Tim Rupp said. "We're hoping to go there and make some noise."

Southeast, 27-17 overall after Wednesday's 16-12 home win over NAIA Mid-Continent, leads the nine-team Ohio Valley Conference with a 10-6 record. The Redhawks are one-half game ahead of Murray State.

While the other eight OVC squads slug it out this weekend, Southeast will try to knock off a perennial national power that has fallen on hard times of late.

After going 25-28-1 overall and a last-place 8-19 in the Big 12 in 2009, Nebraska is again mired in the Big 12 cellar at 7-14. The Cornhuskers are 20-24 overall.

"I'm excited about this trip," Southeast coach Mark Hogan said. "When you set it up, you hope you have a good club."

The Cornhuskers are eighth in the 10-team Big 12 with a .291 batting average and they have scored the league's second-fewest runs with an average of less than seven per game.

Nebraska also has the Big 12's eighth-ranked pitching staff with a 5.29 ERA, although that is better than Southeast's 6.10 mark that ranks second in the OVC.

The Cornhuskers feature the league's top home-run hitter in senior outfielder Adam Bailey with 15. He is third with 52 RBIs while carrying a .378 average.

Other top hitters for the Cornhuskers are senior outfielder D.J. Belfonte (.373) and senior infielder Kale Kiser (.341).

Tom Lemke (5-5, 4.53 ERA), a 6-foot-8, 231-pound freshman right-hander, leads Nebraska in wins and is coming off a five-hit shutout of Texas A&M.

"I know they're not playing as well as they'd like, but they're a Big 12 club and they've been to the College World Series in the last few years," Hogan said. "They've still got a lot of talent and they play in a tremendous facility. It should be a fun series."

Southeast leads the OVC and ranks fifth nationally with a .358 batting average. Hogan hopes the Redhawks' offense continues to surge against Nebraska.

"I love our offense. I would love to go out there and make some noise with the bats," Hogan said. "Hopefully we'll put a good show on."

Southeast already has played seven games against major-conference programs Auburn, Mississippi State and Michigan State.

Although Southeast went 1-6 in those contests, all played early in the season, most of them were close.

"We'd love to take two out of three," junior first baseman Brett Russell said.

After this weekend, the Redhawks finish the regular season with a pair of OVC series, including their final home set May 15 and 16 against Austin Peay. They visit Eastern Illinois May 21 and 22.

Klocke, Gumieny honored for academics

Southeast seniors Jim Klocke and Kyle Gumieny were named to the ESPN The Magazine Academic All-District VII Baseball Team on Thursday.

Klocke, a four-year starter at catcher who ranks among the top players in program history, carries a 3.95 grade point average in business administration. He is hitting .385 with a team-high 20 doubles and 58 RBIs this season.

Gumieny, who has a 7-1 record, leads Southeast in wins and ranks second in the OVC. He boasts a 3.97 GPA in engineering technology.

Klocke and Gumieny now will be placed on the national Academic All-American ballot. Klocke was a second-team Academic All-American last year.

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