The 2014 APSU baseball team has showed moments of promise throughout the season’s first month, but all of the pieces finally came together to earn the first conference series win.
The Govs (8-10, 2-1 OVC) won both games of a doubleheader against Eastern Illinois (4-15, 2-4 OVC) on Saturday, March 15 by scores of 14-10 and 10-6. All three phases of the game — pitching, hitting, and fielding — came together at once as APSU walked out of Raymond C. Hand Park with a confidence-building weekend, now above the .500 mark in conference play.
Game one, to say the least, was a wild one. Twenty-four runs and 32 hits led to four ties and five lead changes throughout the course of nine innings, with the Govs holding on in the end. After starter Ryan Quick exited the game after allowing 11 hits and seven runs, the APSU bullpen held off the Panthers which gave the offense opportunities to put up eye-popping numbers.
Senior Kevin Corey did just that by going 4-for-5 at the plate, and the remaining veterans followed his lead. The four seniors in the lineup — Corey, Rolando Gautier, P.J. Torres, and Matt Wollenzin — combined to drive in eight of the 12 runs, which set the pace for the team.
“I thought Ro (Gautier) did a great job setting the tempo all day, and Matt and P.J. had really good at-bats,” Corey said. “It was nice to see. I thought there was really good leadership, and I think the freshmen and younger guys fed off that.”
The Panthers led 10-9 going into the seventh inning, but the Govs put up a five spot in the bottom half to pull away. A two-run pinch hit home run by Logan Gray, who didn’t start for the first time this season, was the blow that gave APSU the lead and sealed its first win of the day.
In game two, freshman starter Levi Primasing was the story of the game through seven innings. The lefty earned his second win of the season by going seven innings, allowing just two runs on five hits, and struck out a career-high five batters. EIU managed to chip away with four runs in the final two innings, but the bats provided enough early on to make it too much of a gap to overcome.
The Govs plated two runs in the third, then broke through for six in the fourth. A two-run home run by Cayce Bredlau, his first of the year, started it all while Ridge Smith belted his second homer of the season to go up 8-1.
And they didn’t look back.
“It’s really nice, especially as a pitcher,” Primasing said of the run support. “When you get an eight run lead it makes it a lot easier to pitch, even if you try to keep it the same. But with an eight run lead it’s a lot easier and pressure comes off.”
The second contest was also the first of the year in which the Govs did not commit a fielding error as a new infield alignment of Alex Robles at third base, Garrett Copeland at shortstop, and Corey at second worked like a charm.
Up next for the Govs will be a match-up against the nationally ranked Tennessee Volunteers. APSU will travel to Knoxville on Tuesday, March 18 for a 5 p.m. start.