Despite a losing record this season, the APSU offense has remained constant to be the strength of the team, averaging just over six runs per game.
However, the Govs fell one short of just reaching that number in hits on Friday, March 29, falling 7-2 in the first of three games against Murray State at Raymond C. Hand Park.
Of the five hits APSU recorded, only one was an extra base hit — a double by Cayce Bredlau in the third. Meanwhile, the Thoroughbreds (11-12, 5-5 OVC) racked up 14 hits on a cold, windy night as they were able to chip away with singles early in the game. Alex Robles, who failed to pitch seven innings for the first time in his last five starts, pounded the zone with strikes. But the Murray State hitters connected on them to score three runs off the right-hander, giving him the loss.
After both teams scored two runs in the third inning, the Govs (10-15, 3-4) went cold. Opportunities were there to score runs, but could not get on the board again as a total of eight men were left on base.
“We just didn’t do anything offensively tonight,” APSU head coach Gary McClure said. “But we did have an opportunity later in the game with runners on first and second, nobody out. We just didn’t execute what we were trying to do.”
The fifth inning McClure referred to was there for the taking as Murray State failed to turn a double play, but APSU could not capitalize. With the score tied at 2-2, the Thoroughbreds took the lead with a RBI single in the sixth, and their pitching led the way from there. Starter Cameron Finch earned the win by going seven and a third innings, while Cody Maerz finished the game by shutting down the Govs to one hit.
“He (Finch) was throwing all three pitches for strikes, and was in the zone consistently,” Bredlau said. “It was tough. We didn’t stay back on them well.”
Just when it appeared the Govs would have a chance to rally back, Murray State struck for four runs in the ninth to delivered the dagger. McClure thought relievers A.J. Gaura and Tommy Hager pitched well, but the final blow was sent as Jared Carkuff entered with two outs in the ninth. With two runners on, Michael Hargrove opened the gap to five runs with one swing — a three-run homer over the right field wall — to take game one of the series.
Game two will begin at 1 p.m. on Sunday, March 30 with Levi Primasing starting on the mound for the Govs.