As the snow and ice melted, the Govs returned to Raymond C. Hand Park to deliver the first walk-off of 2014.
Down by two runs going to the bottom of the ninth, APSU mounted a rally to defeat the Milwaukee Panthers 5-4 on Saturday, March 8. Back-to-back walks to Kevin Corey and Cayce Bredlau put two runners on, and was followed with a bunt by Rolando Gautier with two strikes to move the runners over. The next batter, Garrett Copeland, powered a double over the left fielder’s head with a 3-2 count, easily scoring two men to knot the score.
“On deck, I literally said I’m going to try to hit the ball over the scoreboard,” Copeland said. “So in the first two swings it probably looked like it. But still, even with two strikes, I felt good about the swing.”
With Copeland standing on second base, Alex Robles stepped to the plate and laced a ground ball to Milwaukee third baseman Nick Unes, who couldn’t make a clean play on it. Copeland advanced to third, and after the left fielder Sam Koenig did not get a hold of the ball in time, Copeland was waved home to be greeted by his teammates.
The win comes after a 10-0 shutout loss on Friday, March 7 against Akron, where a walk-off victory certainly boosts the team’s moral.
“W’s are always much-needed, but especially after yesterday,”Robles said. “We battled hard and I just love the way this team battles after a tough loss. We’re down two runs and we don’t give up, and I love that.”
Robles got the start for the Govs on the mound, matching his career-high in inning pitched with seven strong. The right-hander allowed seven hits, just one run which wasn’t earned, while walking two batters with a pair of strikeouts. The Panthers got on the board first in the fifth thanks to a couple errors by APSU which gave Taylor an opportunity to bring home a run with a sacrifice fly.
The Govs had several chances to do damage, stranding nine runners, twice in the first four innings where runners were at second and third. But in the fifth, shortstop Logan Gray came through with a two-out double to score a pair of Govs, giving APSU a 2-1 advantage.
With 110 pitches thrown, Robles was replaced by closer Jared Carkuff in the eighth. The sophomore sat down two batters in a row with strikeouts, but a line drive down the right field line by Mitch Ghelfi would turn things around for Milwaukee as two men scored. Jake Corum came on to pitch the ninth, and picked up his first win as the pitcher in the decision once the walk-off occurred.
The Govs will play host to Milwaukee again on Sunday, March 9, with freshman Levi Primasing expected to start on the mound for APSU.