To open up a three-game Ohio Valley Conference series, Austin Peay defeated the SIU Edwardsville Cougars by a wide margin of 20-2 on Thursday, May 16 at Raymond C. Hand Park.
The Govs (40-13, 20-7) scored nine runs in the second inning, and did allow SIU Edwardsville (16-33, 10-18) to score until the seventh inning. With 20 runs on 31 hits in the game, APSU starter Zach Hall had more than enough run support from the offense to earn the win.
“You get to relax on the mound, try to stay focused, and attack the zone,” Hall said of the run support. “Our offense was unbelievable. Our hitters hit the ball all over the yard tonight.”
The left-hander went a full six innings, until a lightning delay caused an hour long delay, allowing just two hits with five strikeouts. Hall pitched a no-hitter through five a third innings, but was broken up on a one out single.
“You always know what’s going on, but you gotta try not to think about it and just try to keep doing what you’re doing,” Hall said. “I left the pitch middle-in and he hit it, but no big deal.”
Hall hit the first batter he faced to begin the game, but forced the Cougars to hit two pop outs and a foul out to end the top of inning. APSU put two runners on with back-to-back singles by Rolando Gautier and Jordan Hankins, but was unable to capitalize as Reed Harper grounded into an unorthodox double play as the ball bounced off the shortstop to the second baseman to turn it.
After a scoreless top of the second, the Govs would catch fire off Cougars starter Caleb Wilkerson in the bottom of the frame.
Cody Hudson led off with a single, then stole second to put a man in scoring position. Michael Davis singled to advance Hudson to third, then on a ball by P.J. Torres caused a fielding error, Hudson was able to score easily.
But the offense did not cool off, as the next four hitters combined to hit for the cycle. Dylan Riner reached first with a bunt, Brett Carlson hit a two RBI double in the gap, Gautier added two more runs with a triple, and Hankins finished it off with a two-run homer down the left field line. Hudson and Torres tacked on to the inning, adding a RBI a piece to make it 9-0 after just two innings.
The Govs scored another three runs in the third off two doubles and a single, increasing the lead to 12-0.
Torres blasted the second of four home runs of the game for APSU, a solo shot to left field in the fourth, then Gautier increased his RBI total to three with a ground out.
Travis Becherer ended Hall’s hit less outing with a single through the right side in the sixth, but the Cougars would not get on the board until after the delay.
The delay would affect the Govs bats, as Hankins hit his second homer of the season. Two batters later, Harper followed with one of his own, a two-run blast, to score Craig Massoni.
Devin Caldwell would put an end to the shutout, hitting a solo home run to put the Cougars on the board. Jacob Stewart would also go yard to give SIU Edwardsville its second run of the game off reliever Alex Belew.
As the game progressed into the later stages, APSU head coach Gary McClure called upon his bench to get some swings in, and just like the starters, continued to stay hot against the opposing pitchers.
Kyle Schlatter hit a RBI single in the seventh, Tommy Hager doubled home Harper in the eighth, and Matt Wollenzin chimed in with a single to bring home Hager.
All but one APSU batter earned a hit in the game. The team as a whole was two hits away from tying the school record for most hits in a contest.
The Govs will be back in action Friday night at 6 p.m. at Raymond C. Hand Park for game two of the series against SIU Edwardsville.