Indians try to build on first win

Friday, March 8, 2002

Southeast Missouri State University baseball coach Mark Hogan said a big weight was lifted off the Indians' shoulders with Tuesday's 2-1, 11-inning win at Arkansas State.

Now Hogan will see if the Indians (1-5) can build on their first victory of the season when they visit Memphis (2-4) for a three-game weekend series that begins at 7 p.m. today. There will also be single games at 2 p.m. Saturday and at 1 p.m. Sunday.

"Getting the first win was a big relief. We've been close against some really good clubs this year and it's nice to get that out of the way," Hogan said. "Now hopefully we can build on that against a solid team from Conference USA."

Three of the Indians' six games so far have been decided by one run, including losses at Oklahoma and nationally ranked Wichita State.

Against Arkansas State, the Indians very nearly met the same fate when they trailed 1-0 going into the ninth inning. But they tied the contest on a successful suicide squeeze bunt by Tristen McDonald, then won it in the 11th as Brian Hopkins' single drove in Zach Borowiak, who had doubled.

"It was a tremendous, well played game and it would have been a bitter one for us to lose," Hogan said.

The Indians, who have not played at home yet this season, got strong pitching performances from Brad Purcell and Brandon Smith, a pair of seniors. Purcell went the first seven innings and allowed one run. Smith hurled four shutout frames to get the victory.

Smith, after struggling for much of his first three seasons at Southeast, has been a pleasant surprise so far. He also had a stellar recent outing against Wichita State in a starting role. In 13 2/3 innings, he has a 2.63 earned-run average and has allowed just 11 hits.

"Brandon is a guy that has a really good arm and he's showing some maturity and consistency so far," Hogan said. "He's thrown about as well as we could expect him to throw. The performance he and Purcell put out there Tuesday would beat about anybody you play."

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