After a downhill start to the season, the Bat Govs needed a turnaround as Eastern Michigan traveled to Clarksville for a doubleheader on Tuesday, Feb. 25.
APSU defeated the Eagles 8-3 in the first game, while EMU bounced back in the second to win a nail bitter 9-8. But with the way things have been going for the Govs, settling for a split isn’t necessarily a bad thing to bring some confidence to the locker room. APSU broke the losing streak in the opening game, and rallied back to give the Eagles a scare in the night cap. Head coach Gary McClure said he thought the series was a positive as they returned to their home turf at Raymond C. Hand Park.
“Maybe we grew up a little bit tonight overall,” McClure said. “The first game we got a ‘W’ and did some good things, and in second game, coming back like that late against what I thought were some pretty good arms, I think was a positive thing for our club.”
Freshman Levi Primasing, a graduate of Northeast High School, started and won his first collegiate game in a solid outing in game one. The lefty pitched six innings, the longest an APSU starting pitcher has gone this season, and allowed just two runs with four strikeouts.
With all eight of APSU’s runs coming when Primasing was on the mound, he was able to relax and just look to throw strikes. Run support has been a difficult thing for pitchers to receive, and the freshman said it was great to help with the early jitters.
“It was nice,” Primasing said. “It’s definitely a lot easier to pitch with a lead than it is from behind. But the biggest thing was just being able to get out there and just try to put zeros up on the board so these guys could get me some runs.”
A bases-clearing double in the second by senior Rolando Gautier would give the Govs a 3-1 lead, and they wouldn’t look back as they scored five in the next three innings.
After a break, the Govs took the field for game two, and jumped out to a 2-0 advantage in the first with a RBI by Ridge Smith, while Garrett Copeland scored on a wild pitch. Smith went four-for-nine combined in the two games after a quiet series against Baylor last weekend, and says it’s a relief to get some luck back on his side.
“It’s been rough. I’ve been hitting a lot of balls hard right at people and just kind of persevering through it.” Smith said. “It’s baseball, so it’s going to come back and balls are going to start falling again.”
After six innings, the score was knotted at 4-4, and remaining that way until the seventh. The Eagles put up two runs in that frame before scoring three in the eighth, capitalizing on a couple errors made in that span. But the Govs weren’t going to go away easily as they put up four runs in the bottom half by moving guys around with timely hits and taking advantage of wild pitches.
The Govs held EMU scoreless in the top of the ninth, but could not tie the game in the ninth after two strikeouts and groundout.
APSU will be back in action over the weekend as they host the Riverview Inn Classic. The Govs will play at 3:30 p.m. from Friday, Feb. 28 to Sunday, March 2 against Dayton, Bradley, and Xavier.