After last night’s walk-off victory which opened a crucial three-game series against Eastern Kentucky, Austin Peay head coach Gary McClure hoped it would be the spark to help move them up in the Ohio Valley Conference standings.
On Saturday, the Govs fed off that momentum with an offensive display, leading to a 13-9 win over the Colonels at Raymond C. Hand Park.
Austin Peay (18-25, 10-10 OVC) recorded 15 hits on the afternoon, with both teams battling for advantage in the early stages. After being tied five times through five and a half innings, the Govs squared up on balls in the bottom of the sixth to score four runs, and didn’t look back en route to winning the series.
“We were pretty relentless at the plate,” McClure said. “We battled all day and our guys did a great job of getting pitches up in the zone to hit. They really stuck to the plan we had going in, and they hit the ball really well.”
Matt Wollenzin led off the sixth with a double, which came after hitting his second home run of the season two innings prior. Shortstop Logan Gray followed the senior with a two-run homer to left-center – tying P.J. Torres for most on the team at six – and allowed the Govs to take an 8-7 lead to be declared the game-winning shot.
Gray came up with two clutch hits last night late in the game, and after a 3-for-4 performance with four RBIs on Saturday, the freshman said he definitely feels back to being almost fully healthy. It showed right away with a single and double in his first two at-bats before the home run.
“I feel like today we made the adjustments a lot earlier in the game,” Gray said. “Even though we went down a few times, we didn’t really worry about it or anything because we knew our offense was going to take care of it and come back.”
The Govs went down in order to begin the game against EKU starter Brent Cobb, but from that point forward, the bats clicked on all cylinders. McClure said it can be hard offensively to answer an opponent once pitchers allow runs to score, yet was pleased by how they responded.
APSU’s Jared Carkuff allowed six runs in his five innings on the mound while walking five men. However, the bullpen limited the damage as Jake Corum picked up the win, with A.J. Gaura and Levi Primasing combining to pitch two innings of one-hit ball.
The Govs have now won three out of four series in conference, though a sweep over the Colonels (20-23, 9-11 OVC) is heavily weighing on their minds. With a 0-5 mark in the last five series finale games, APSU is searching for a three-game winning streak for the first time this season. Gray said he expects the team to come out more aggressive to avoid what happened against Belmont and Tennessee Tech in losses, but the senior Wollenzin isn’t planning on changing his mindset from the prior situations.
“It’s definitely coming in with a chip on our shoulder that we haven’t done that,” Wollenzin said. “To be a good team and to get where we want to be, we need to win three in a row. I don’t think it’s a change of approach or anything. Just come out ready to play.”
Currently, the Govs sit in a tie with EKU and Murray State for sixth place in the conference. Game 3 of the series against the Colonels will begin at 11 a.m. in an attempt to avoid inclement weather. Senior left-hander Alex Belew will take the mound for APSU in his second start of the season.
Photo: Matt Wollenzin (Corey Adams/The All State)