If you showed up to Raymond C. Hand Park on Friday, April 11 and had no knowledge of the current standings in the Ohio Valley Conference, you would have thought the opposite of how they really are.
Southeast Missouri came into the weekend riding high with an eight-game winning streak and in control of the league. But the Red Hawks ran into a surging APSU team, and got a rude awakening as the Govs pounded SEMO 22-4 in the late hours of the night and into early morning.
The first of a three-game series was scheduled for a 6 p.m. start time, but rain forced first pitch back to 8:31 p.m. with the final out being recorded after midnight. The delay certainly didn’t have an effect on the Govs (14-20, 6-7 OVC) as they went on to rack up 22 hits in the contest, and took complete control of the game.
“Our guys did a really good job from the get go of getting good pitches to hit and not chasing,” APSU head coach Gary McClure said. “We were able to get base runners on and we got a bunch of them. We did a good job of situational hitting early in the ballgame and we were able to have a big inning.”
The Red Hawks (22-11, 13-3 OVC) jumped out to a 2-0 lead in the top of the first, but it would quickly be countered. APSU quickly put up six runs in the bottom half of the frame, taking advantage of mistakes made after SEMO hit the leadoff man, had a passed ball sneak past the catcher, and an error in the infield. The starting pitcher for SEMO, Tyler Iago, would only pitch one and a third-innings, which forced the visitor’s bullpen to be busy throughout the night.
On the other hand, the Govs got another solid outing by Alex Robles, who departed after six innings. The right-hander earned his fourth win of the season, allowing four runs on seven hits, and totaled five strikeouts. After giving up all four runs in the first two innings, the freshman settled in to limit SEMO to just four base runners the remainder of his time on the mound.
It certainly didn’t hurt as the offense gave him more than enough runs, and he helped himself at the plate by going 3-for-3 with three RBI and three runs scored.
“It’s a lot of confidence when you know your offense is going to battle for you,” Robles said. “I love it, because it seems every time I pitch I get a lot of run support. I get to go out there and throw strikes and don’t have to worry about making the perfect pitch.”
Three other players — Ridge Smith, Dre Gleason, and Chase Hamilton — joined Robles in driving in three runs each as the Govs scored in all but two innings. Smith and Gleason have been mainstays in the APSU lineup, but for Hamilton, it was a break out game for him after previously going 1-for-16 dating back to March 15.
“I was really pleased for him and the team with what he did because he was a big part of it tonight,” McClure said. “He’s always going to make our club better defensively with the way he plays center field. I wanted to get him out there to see how he would respond and he obviously responded well.”
Game 2 of the series will be on Saturday, April 12 at 2 p.m. Jared Carkuff will start on the mound for the first time this season after being used in both the closer and long-relief roles.
The Govs will look to make the message even more clear that aren’t the team based upon their record, hoping to win a second-straight conference series.
Photo: Alex Robles (Corey Adams/The All State)