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One big inning given up by APSU has been a recurring theme throughout the 2014 season.
It came back to hurt the Govs once again on Tuesday, April 29 at home against Western Kentucky as the Hilltoppers used a five-run second inning to edge out a victory, 6-5, in the early morning hours.
The game was set for an original 6 p.m. start, but rain moved into the area to push the game back to an 8:45 p.m. first pitch.
The Govs (18-27) got on the board first with a two RBI double by Alex Robles in the opening frame, but WKU (24-21) answered to score five runs in the second off Jake Corum, who replaced APSU starter Levi Primasing.
Offensively, APSU was quiet by going down in order from innings two through six. They were able to put runners on, but gave away outs as WKU left-handed starter Ryan Thurston used an effective pick off move to nail a pair of Govs at first base. Thurston earned the win by going seven innings, allowing three runs.
The APSU bullpen held the Hilltoppers scoreless until the seventh as a RBI double by Ryan Church knocked in one. In the bottom half, Ridge Smith belted his fifth home run of the season — a solo shot — which made it 6-3. It was the first time the Govs touched second base since the fourth batter of the game.
In the eighth, the Govs were awarded two runs courtesy of a throwing error and RBI groundout by Robles, cutting the deficit to just one run. As the clock ticked past midnight, APSU had chances to at the very least go to extra inning or potentially walk-off. Logan Gray doubled to set the tying run up at third base, and the Govs would eventually load the bases as Garrett Copeland was intentional walked to set up a lefty-lefty match-up between Cayce Bredlau and WKU closer Ian Tompkins. Bredlau forced a full count, but went down looking on strikes to leave the bags full.
The Govs are now 3-10 in mid-week games which fall on Tuesday and Wednesday. They will have a quick turnaround as they travel to Middle Tennessee to take on the Blue Raiders on Wednesday, April 30. First pitch is scheduled for 6 p.m.
APSU head coach Gary McClure: “We just didn’t compete on the mound that inning. We walked their three lowest guys in the order and there’s no defense for walks. You don’t give yourself a chance, and then we threw a wild pitch after we walked three guys. Our defense had no chance to help the pitcher because he never made them put the ball in play.”
Left fielder Ridge Smith on WKU starter Thurston: “It was really hard for us because we didn’t make adjustments on him, waiting back and seeing the ball up. We didn’t do that very well at all and that’s why he was able to go so long. I honestly didn’t think he was that great of a pitcher.”
Third baseman Alex Robles on what he expects against MTSU: “We just have to come out and fight. It’s an in-state rival so we have to take that personally. It’s a big two-game series I guess you can look at it. We just gotta not lose the series and go out there and fight.”
Robles drove in three of APSU’s five runs — going 1-for-4 at the plate — and now has six games where he has driven in three runs. He also leads the team in current hitting streaks at seven games.
The Govs used a total of 10 pitchers in the contest, with none of them throwing more than 30 pitches.
WKU closer Tompkins earned his 12th save of the season, which breaks the single-season record in the program’s history.
Freshman outfielder Chase Hamilton made his first appearance on the mound, not allowing a base runner in two-thirds of an inning. McClure said they have been trying to work him in the mix after throwing bullpen sessions for the past two weeks.
Relievers Jordan Harmon made his first appearance win March 18 at Tennessee. The freshman right-hander has been out due to injury, but finally got back out there to pitch a shut down inning.
Catcher P.J. Torres was taken out of the game in the to begin the eighth limping out of the box when running to first. It didn’t look like anything serious, more than likely just as a precaution.
Photo: Ridge Smith (Corey Adams/The All State)