Two big innings from the visiting Blue Raiders were enough to greet APSU with a rude welcome home.
After ending a four-game home stand, the Govs fell to Middle Tennessee 12-7 in their return to Raymond C. Hand Park on Wednesday, April 23.
The Govs (16-25) jumped out to a 2-0 lead after one inning, but fell victim to an error-filled second frame which allowed MTSU (20-21) to tie the game. The left side of the defense behind starter Caleb Powell — Garrett Copeland and Kevin Corey — each committed one error, leading to the Govs handing the visitors extra outs.
APSU came back in the bottom half to take a 4-2 advantage, but the fourth would be the eventual game-changing inning.
The first batter of the inning went down swinging courtesy of Powell. However, it would be the final batter he would retire as a single and hit by pitch would force the Govs to turn to Jake Corum. Things did not improve from there, though. After forcing a fly out in his first batter faced, the Blue Raiders struck for walked and singled twice each in a pattern before a gutting three-run home run by Michael Adkins sailed over the wall in left-center. Suddenly, MTSU had taken a 9-4 lead.
The Govs pushed across two in the sixth with a double steal and RBI single by pinch-hitter Tommy Hager, but in the end, the Blue Raiders paced themselves down the stretch — scoring one run a piece in the final three innings — to leave Clarksville with the win.
APSU head coach Gary McClure on the early mistakes: “I felt like we scored enough runs today to win, (but) we just didn’t play defense early. We basically gave them five outs in that second inning, and instead of coming out in the second inning with a 2-0 lead, it’s 2-2 and we threw a lot of extra pitches to do that. We just gave them extra outs and made it harder on ourselves.”
Right-fielder Rolando Gautier on how much the seven-run inning affected the team: “A lot actually. All of their hits were with like two strikes. Pitches were left up and one guy hit it out and another hit a seed up the middle. On two strike pitches we gotta try to get those down and make them hit our pitch. We didn’t do a good job of that tonight.”
Catcher Ridge Smith from his perspective behind the plate: “We didn’t quite bring it today I guess. Pitchers got hit around, but that’s not their fault. There were a lot of balls I was catching that were off the plate and they were somehow hitting. It was just one of those nights I feel like.”
Smith went 4-for-5 in the game with a RBI single, becoming the third player this season along with P.J. Torres and Kevin Corey to record four hits in a single game. The freshman now has 14 multi-hit games and leads the team with 31 RBI.
Gautier and Alex Robles combined to go 4-for-10 against the Blue Raiders with three RBI.
Each pitcher for APSU gave up at least one run, with six different players taking the mound.
Junior right-handed pitcher Caleb DeLee has been declared out for the season due to an upper body injury.
Shortstop Logan Gray did not play Wednesday due to sickness which has been spreading around the team. McClure said he expects Gray to try and practice tomorrow to suit up this weekend.
Meanwhile, P.J. Torres also did not play after also being sick. The senior had lost about 15-20 pounds from it, but could have been used if needed against MTSU. He is expected to also play this weekend.
Former APSU shortstop Reed Harper was at RCHP tonight, wearing a cast on his wrist/hand. Harper plays for the Rome Braves — a single-A team in the Atlanta Braves organization — but injured himself when sliding into a base. He is expected to miss significant time once a reevaluation is done in Atlanta, but told me he’ll be back for the second half of the season.
The lead off batter for MTSU — Dustin Delgado — is in fact the little brother of former Govs pitcher Casey Delgado. APSU held the shortstop hit less in six at-bats, but Casey was on hand to watch his brother take on his former team. And for the record, Casey was wearing an APSU hat, not MTSU.
Photo: Ridge Smith (Corey Adams/The All State)