Following a series win at Eastern Kentucky last weekend, the APSU Bat Govs returned to Raymond C. Hand Park on May 3-5 to host the Morehead State Golden Eagles in a three-game Ohio Valley Conference series.
The Govs earned the sweep over the Golden Eagles, with the first two games being won by one run, and game three on Sunday by a six-run margin. With the Sunday win, APSU clinched a spot in the OVC Tournament, which begins on May 22.
“I thought we played well overall,” head coach Gary McClure said. “After Friday, our defense was pretty dang good the rest of the weekend. We made some changes, and our guys made it pay off for us. I’m really proud of them.”
Game one of the series on Friday, May 3 was a battle throughout, with both teams going back-and-forth on the scoreboard. On a windy day at the ballpark where a total of seven home runs were hit, it would come down to two key long balls to give the Govs the win.
After being down two runs in the bottom of the ninth, Craig Massoni came to the plate with one runner on base. The first baseman lifted a high shot to left field, in what appeared to be a routine fly ball for the left fielder. However, the gusting wind allowed the ball to carry over the wall to tie the game and send it to extra innings.
“I put a good swing on it. I knew it had some backspin, and any time you combine backspin with the wind blowing, the ball is going to go,” Massoni said. “I just told myself that if I got a chance to tie the game, I would try to get it up in the jet stream and get it done.”
Closer Tyler Rogers held the Eagles scoreless in the top of the tenth, which allowed APSU to win it in the bottom half of the inning in walk-off fashion. P.J. Torres stood at the plate with a 3-1 count, and got the fastball he wanted to drive it over fence in left-center to give the Govs a 9-8 victory.
“I just tried to look for something that I can handle and hit something in the air and just let it happen,” Torres explained. “There’s something about this team that when we’re down, we’re going to come back. We’re going to battle until we win.”
On Saturday, May 4, APSU jumped out to a 5-0 lead after two innings, led by Kevin Corey who was three-for-four on the day including a key RBI single to begin the second inning.
“Today off a lefty, he was throwing a lot of fastballs in, so I was looking for those on the inner half,” Corey said of his keys to success. “When he threw them to me, I found a way to get a hit.”
As the game progressed, Morehead State fought back to come within one run off APSU starter Zach Hall. But in the ninth, Rogers closed the door on a comeback to earn the save, giving the Govs the win by a score of 6-5.
The Govs completed the sweep of the series on Sunday, May 5 by a score of 9-3, but had to score eight of the nine runs after the fifth inning to earn the win.
Jordan Hankins gave the Govs the lead in the seventh inning with a solo home run, which gave his teammates opportunities to pull away in the end. The stand-out of the day was Reed Harper, who after recording just one hit in the series prior to Sunday, went five-for-five at the plate, including two doubles.
“I feel like it was much-needed. I know the team needs me, and I gave them the production today,” Harper said. “We’re going to have a really fun two weeks, and if we go out there and do what we did this weekend, I don’t see how things won’t work out for us.”
The fun begins next weekend, May 10-12, as the Govs will travel to UT-Martin for a three-game series against the Skyhawks.