Winter weather came into Raymond C. Park on the weekend of March 1-3, which caused the Governors of Austin Peay to alter plans in a three-game series against the Michigan State Spartans.
On Friday, both teams came out hoping to play through the falling snow, but after only two innings played, the game was forced to be ruled a no contest with no records kept. No game was played Saturday due to snow, which meant a double-header was needed to be played Sunday to make up for the cancellations, along with the series finale Monday.
The Govs and Spartans split on Sunday, with Austin Peay winning 7-2 in the noon contest and Michigan State taking the following game 4-3.
Senior starting pitcher for Austin Peay, Casey Delgado, helped lead the Govs to victory in the opening game by pitching six scoreless innings with five strikeouts.
“I thought it was a big team win,” Delgado said. “It’s easy to pitch good when you’re ahead and have good defense behind me. I had a good feel for all my pitches today.”
Leading the Gov’s offense were Jordan Hankins and Craig Massoni, who both went two-for-four with an RBI a piece. Relief pitcher Kacy Kemmer came in late in the game to pitch three innings to earn the save.
In game two, roughly an hour after the opener, Michigan State starter David Garner held the Govs scoreless through seven innings, allowing just five hits, and striking out seven batters.
A.J. Gaura started for on the mound for Austin Peay, but left the game in the third inning after a ball came back up the middle that struck him on his throwing arm. The Govs committed four errors in the game, which allowed the Spartans to bring home four runs in the game. Austin Peay answered back in the eighth inning with doubles by Cody Hudson and P.J. Torres to get three runs back, but wasn’t enough to overcome the deficit.
“I have to give a ton of credit to their pitcher,” head coach Gary McClure stated on Sunday. “He’s got a ton of talent and will be a good pro. We ran into the best guy we’ve seen by far this year that’s for sure, and he did a good job against us.
Game three was a hard-fought battle as the series concluded, and couldn’t have ended any better for the Govs.
Austin Peay got on the board in the first inning with three runs, two of which coming on a home run by shortstop Reed Harper. But things went downhill for the home team in fifth as Michigan State put up six runs in the inning with three RBI singles and a pair of doubles.
Down by three runs going into the seventh, the Govs needed to score runs in a hurry, and did so in the seventh with the help of a single from Massoni, fielder’s choice by Hudson, and game-tying RBI double by Torres.
Tyler Rogers came on for the Govs to hold Michigan State to no runs in the eighth and ninth, which opened the door for Austin Peay to win the game with one swing.
Hudson came up to the plate with Hankins and Massoni on base and belted his first home run of the year over to give the Govs the win in walk-off fashion.
“Right down the middle,” Hudson said of the pitch from Spartans closer Justin Alleman. “He left it up there for me and I took advantage of it.”
After a long weekend of baseball, McClure was pleased with the way his team battled back Monday to win the series against a team that was a preseason pick to finish third in the Big Ten Conference.
“I thought it was a game that meant a lot to both teams. Both teams really needed to win this game,” McClure said. “I think our guys stepped up and played like it was a big game. We made all the plays, our bullpen did a great job for the third time this weekend, and we had great at-bats late in the game.”
The Bat Govs have a busy schedule for the week, with an away game at Western Kentucky before hosting the Hilltoppers on Wednesday, then will compete in the Riverview Inn Classic over the weekend at home.