Opening weekend finally arrived for the APSU Governors baseball team from Friday, Feb. 15 t
o Sunday, Feb. 17 at Raymond C. Hand Park, with the Govs winning two out of three games of the series against the Iowa Hawkeyes.
The Govs picked up where they left off last season as Ohio Valley Conference champions by defeating the Hawkeyes 4-2 in the season opener Friday, Feb. 15.
Lee Ridenhour, a junior transfer from Kansas, made his debut on the mound by going seven innings, allowing just one run on one hit and striking out seven batters. Coming on in relief to seal the deal for the Govs late in the game were Kacy Kemmer and Tyler Rogers. Following the game, head coach Gary McClure was very pleased with his pitching staff’s opening day performance.
“I thought our pitching was very good,” McClure said. “Lee did an outstanding job getting us started. He was really in total command of the game. We got him out of there at 100 pitches, which was what we’d said we were going to do. Kacy Kimmer came in and threw strikes, and Tyler came in and closed it down.”
Leading the way offensively for APSU was catcher P.J. Torres, who went 3-3, including his first career triple.
“P.J. caught a very good game, which is his first job, but he also had a great approach at the plate,” McClure said. “He got pitches up that he could handle and hit, laid off the tough pitches, and had a great game offensively.”
Game two of the series on Saturday, Feb. 16, was a setback for the home team, as Iowa bounced back with a 13-1 victory. Hawkeye catcher Dan Sheppard led the way with four RBIs. The Govs could not keep pace with the bats and made many mistakes in the field that cost them.
“We just didn’t do a lot of the little parts of the game you got to do to win,” McClure said. “We gave them a lot of runs today and beat ourselves as well. I’m not saying that they didn’t deserve to win because they did. But we also beat ourselves in the manner of giving them more runs than they should have had.”
With the series tied at one win apiece, APSU came in with more emotion in the rubber game and came out on top 6-1. A.J. Gaura made his debut on the hill for the Govs, allowing only one run in six and 1/3 innings, including seven strikeouts.
The Govs also hit their first homerun of the year as senior Reed Harper went deep in the second inning. To add on to the offensive production, Dylan Riner went 3-3 with a double in the fifth to help the Govs come out on top and regain the momentum as the season continues.
“I thought it was a big win today,” McClure said after the win on Sunday, Feb. 17. “It’s early, but you kind of have those days where you feel like it’s kind of a must win for your club to give them confidence or get them over the hump. I felt like these guys needed to prove to everybody and especially themselves that they could come back from what happened yesterday and be the kind of team to bounce back and play really well, and they did that.”
APSU traveled to Middle Tennessee State University on Tuesday, Feb. 19 for the first road game of the season before opening another three game home stand on Friday, Feb. 22 against Illinois State.