Defining it as a “rough start” for APSU baseball in 2014 would be an understatement at this point.
Another disappointing showing over the weekend of Friday, Feb. 21 to Sunday, Feb. 23 dropped the Bat Govs to 1-6 on the season. At Baylor University where attendance averaged just under the 2,500 mark, the Bears swept the series by scores of 5-2, 15-1, and 12-1, with the final game being called off after seven innings, to make the bus trip back to Clarksville a long, quiet one.
Here a five things takeaways from the road series.
Help Wanted: Offense
Even in 70-degree weather in Waco, Texas, APSU’s bats stayed cold by hitting .129 (11-85) as a team with just three extra base hits. The lone high point in the hitting category was a two-for-three game by Logan Gray in game one as he drove in a pair of runs with a double. Team strikeouts have continued to pile up over the course of the season after 29 over the weekend, and the Govs have the highest total in the OVC with 78 whiffs. The Govs are simply trying to do too much with pressure on their shoulders, and it has showed at the plate. Head coach Gary McClure has played with the lineup by moving guys around, but said last week he won’t make any significant changes. The players have the talent. It’s just a matter of overcoming adversity to finally break out.
Lack of run support leads to inconsistent pitching
In baseball, the pitching staff needs run support to feel comfortable on the mound. But with the Govs providing just four runs in three games, it has been rough for pitchers. The weekend starters — Zach Hall, Alex Robles, and Ryan Quick — combined to allow 18 hits, 13 walks, and just three strikeouts. The Bears had a hit parade in game two by racking up 20 hits, with 11 coming off Robles. None of the three starters lasted longer than five innings, which then impacted the bullpen. Only two relievers — Kacy Kemmer and Jared Carkuff — have not allowed to cross home plate this season.
Error Count: 23
The Govs lead the conference in another category where they don’t want to be at the top: errors. With six errors against Baylor, APSU now has 23 in 2014 which easily leads the remaining OVC teams. Only four teams have recorded a double-digit total, with Morehead State in second place with 16. The freshman shortstop, Gray, has committed nine already this season as the frustrations continue to pile up. McClure replaced Gray with senior Kevin Corey midway through the third game, and could continue if he can’t turn things around.
Seniors go three for 25 at the plate
The talk continues to be about how hit or miss the young players have been, but they aren’t the only players who are struggling. The returning trio of P.J. Torres, Rolando Gautier, and Matt Wollenzin went three for 25 over the weekend. As seniors, they have tried to make up for the lack of hitting, but like the rest of the team, they have tried to do too much. Wollenzin recorded a pair of hits in the series, Gautier had a RBI, but Torres went hit-less in 10 plate appearances. Torres hasn’t had a hit since Feb. 15 against Iowa, so a 0-17 slump will certainly take a tole on his confidence.
Thirteen game home stand comes at a perfect time
To help the Govs turn things around, they return to Raymond C. Hand Park to play 13-straight games in front of the home crowd. This comes at a crucial time where they need to settle down, get their mindset back on track, and prepare for conference play, which is just around the corner beginning on March 14. While OVC record is really what counts in the end, APSU has to find momentum against non-conference teams to carry over.