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Southeast Missouri State baseball team tumbles to NAIA Mid-Continent
Frustration was the word of the day for the Southeast Missouri State baseball team.
The Redhawks continued to sputter, falling 10-9 to visiting Mid-Continent University on Tuesday afternoon after yielding the winning run in the top of the ninth inning.
It was Southeast's first defeat against an NAIA opponent since St. Catharine College pulled off the upset in 2009.
The Redhawks are mired in by far their worst stretch under 18th-year coach Mark Hogan. Southeast (8-22) has lost 12 of its last 13 games and 18 of its last 21.
"It's very frustrating. We've got to figure it out," senior shortstop Kenton Parmley said. "It's starting to get late in the season now. We need some guys to start stepping up."
Mid-Continent (15-27), from Mayfield, Ky., also has struggled much of the season, but the Cougars have won five of their last six games.
"I'm absolutely proud of the guys," Mid-Continent coach Shawn Yarbrough said. "We've probably got the most talented team we've had. We played a tough nonconference schedule and got off to a rough start -- 0-8. But we've picked it up lately."
The Cougars, who beat a Division I opponent for the second time in two years -- they upset Murray State last season -- outhit Southeast 15-11 and had two of the game's three home runs.
"They pounded the ball. They wore us out offensively," said Hogan, whose squad had been 3-0 against NAIA opponent this season. "There was nothing cheap about it. You've got to tip your cap to them."
The meat of the Cougars' order pounded Southeast pitching.
Uriel Hawkins, Spencer Anderson, Richard Arias and Cable McMinn -- Mid-Continent's Nos. 2 through 5 hitters -- combined to go 12 for 18 with eight RBIs and eight runs scored.
Arias homered and delivered three RBIs.
"Not only do we have a good offensive team, but we're blessed with speed," Yarbrough said.
Southeast led 3-0 after one inning and 4-1 after two innings, but the Cougars stayed strong.
Mid-Continent took its first lead at 7-6 in the fifth inning and Southeast never regained the advantage.
Sophomore left fielder Derek Gibson's two-run, two-out homer in the bottom of the sixth inning pulled Southeast into a 9-9 tie.
That's the way things stood until the top of the ninth. Anderson led off with a single, went to third on an Arias single and scored on a McMinn sacrifice fly.
Hunter Burge, statistically the Cougars' top pitcher on the season, finished an impressive relief performance with a perfect bottom of the ninth. Jordan Manney made a diving catch of senior Kody Campbell's sinking liner in left field for the final out.
"Burge threw great. He shut us down other than the pitch Derek hit out," Hogan said.
Burge (7-3) allowed two runs and two hits over the final 4 1/3 innings. He struck out four and did not issue a walk.
"He's been our closer the last couple of seasons, but we've moved him into a spot starter role this year," Yarbrough said. "We were only going to use him for an inning, but he didn't want to come out."
Gibson and redshirt freshman Andy Lennington, who has played a variety of positions, continued to be bright spots for the youthful Redhawks.
Gibson, who also doubled and had three RBIs, extended his hitting streak to 14 games. He ranks third on the team with a .333 batting average.
"He's really starting to step up for us," Parmley said.
Gibson, a graduate of North County High School in Bonne Terre, Mo., came to Southeast in 2009 as a quarterback. He joined the Southeast baseball program in 2010 and redshirted. He then decided to quit football after two years. He never played in a game.
Gibson received one at-bat last season as a redshirt freshman before breaking through this year during his first extended playing time.
"I'm thankful for the opportunity I've been given," Gibson said. "But I'm just here to help us win. I couldn't care what else happens as long as we win. Right now it's just not going our way."
Lennington, who went 3 for 5, is Southeast's fourth player with a batting average above .300. He is hitting .327.
"Derek and Andy have really been bright spots for us," Hogan said. "They've been our MVPs after Parmley and [Trenton] Moses, who everybody knows about."
Parmley and Moses, Southeast's All-American senior third baseman, extended their school-record streaks.
Parmley singled in the first inning, pushing his hitting streak to 37 games dating back to last year. The shortstop is just five games shy of the Ohio Valley Conference record 42-game hitting streak established by Austin Peay's Chuck Abbott in 1996.
Parmley, batting .400, also has reached base safely in 46 consecutive games.
Moses had a first-inning double to extend his streak of reaching base safely to 50 consecutive games dating back to last year. He has hit safely in 28 of 30 games this season and leads the Redhawks with a .430 average.
Junior college transfer left-hander Zack Smith (1-5) took the loss even though he was the most effective of Southeast's four hurlers.
Smith, who had not pitched since March 14 due to arm issues, fired off two scoreless innings before allowing the game-winning run in the ninth. He gave up three hits in his three innings of work.
"We were glad to see him back out there," Hogan said.
Southeast, which is 1-5 in OVC play, resumes its league schedule at 3 p.m. Thursday when Eastern Kentucky (12-15, 4-2) visits to begin a three-game series.