The APSU Bat Govs returned home to Raymond C. Hand Park this past weekend to play host to the Golden Eagles of Tennessee Tech in a match-up between two of the top Ohio Valley Conference teams.
APSU came into the series with a sweep of Murray State and two mid-week wins against Lipscomb and Western Kentucky. But after winning 7-3 on Friday, APSU could not close out the series, losing the remaining two games on Saturday and Sunday.
Game one of the series on Friday was a historic one for head coach Gary McClure, as the twenty-six year coaching veteran earned his 777th win, passing Johnny Reagan for the most wins all-time by an OVC baseball coach.
Lee Ridenhour was given the ball on the mound for the Govs on Friday, earning the win by matching his career best in strikeouts with nine in eight innings.
“My goal in the game is to put us in a position to win,” Ridenhour said after the win. “When the bats hit the way they hit tonight and the way our defense plays, [along with] the bench energy, it’s just a great feeling.”
Offensively, Jordan Hankins led the way with three RBIs, two of which coming on a two-run home run in the third inning. Hankins, who is second on the team in batting average, feels in the groove at the mid-season point.
“I’m just trying to be more patient at the plate and get the pitches I know I can handle,” Hankins said. “If I don’t get them, then I need to make sure I’m confident swinging with two strikes and be able to put the ball in play.”
On Saturday, April 6 the Golden Eagles were dialed in with the bats and delivered five home runs, three by Daniel Miles and two coming from Dylan Bosheers. In both the fourth and fifth innings, Miles and Bosheers hit back-to-back blasts, then later in the sixth, Miles added his third of the day. The home runs came against Govs pitchers Casey Delgado, who was given the loss, and Kacy Kemmer.
APSU went into the ninth inning down by six runs, but came back to close the deficit to three runs, led by Craig Massoni who was four for four at the plate with three RBIs. However, the comeback would come to a halt with Tennessee Tech closer Seth Lucio getting a game-ending strikeout with the bases loaded.
In the series wrap-up on Sunday, the Govs fell 12-4, ending their streak of nine consecutive series wins dating back to last season.
The Golden Eagles added another three home runs for the weekend, giving them a total of eight in the series off the Govs pitching staff. Massoni went three for four, driving home three of Austin Peay’s four runs, but the remainder of the batting order could not supply the crucial hits needed to win.
“The games the last two days were games of missed opportunities offensively with guys in scoring position,” head coach Gary McClure said following the loss on Sunday. “We struck out in big situations, especially with less than two outs. We pitched up in the zone and didn’t show command on the mound, and those are things that scream “hit me,” and that’s what they did.”
APSU begins a six-game road trip with non-conference games on Tuesday, April 9 at Kentucky and Wednesday, April 10 at Southern Illinois. The Govs conclude the road trip by taking on Southeast Missouri in a weekend OVC series Friday, April 12 through Sunday, April 14.