You have reached the Monday Morning Blog.
Following each conference baseball series, I’ll offer my thoughts from the weekend, as well as touching on other behind the scenes notes in APSU baseball. This weekend, the Govs hosted Southeast Missouri in a three-game series from Raymond C. Hand Park from Friday, April 11 to Sunday, April 13.
APSU won the opener Friday, 22-4, but dropped the final two games by scores of 10-9 and 19-7 to lose the series.
For a full recap on each game, click the links below:
Offense reaches full potential in Game 1
Twenty-two runs, 22 hits, and 19 RBI. We have now seen the full potential of what this APSU offense can do in one game.
Even after scoring 14 runs against Eastern Illinois on March 15, I knew this team had more fire power in them. However, the Govs exceeded my expectations to trounce SEMO in Game 1, which at that point sent a serious message to the remainder of the OVC. Three men in the order recorded three RBI a piece, and all nine starters scored and drove in at least one run.
Everyone knows the strength of this year’s team is hitting, and the players realize it’s up to them to lead APSU to win. When the Govs put up less than four runs, they are 0-10 this season.
You obviously can’t ask them to get 10 runs per game, if they can’t get over the five mark, chances are it’s going to be a loss.
Gleason finding his groove
No one was hotter at the plate this weekend than first baseman Dre Gleason.
The freshman scorched the ball all over the yard, finishing the series at 6-for-12 with two homers and five RBI. Both shots landed way beyond the wall in right field, with his blast on Saturday nailing a tree on the fly that stands at street level. After Friday’s game, he talked about how is continuing to find a rhythm with his swing.
“I’m starting to finally get through the ball instead of getting a weak barrel,” Gleason said. “I’m starting to get extension on the ball and getting that back spin on the baseball.”
Gleason now has 10 multi-hit games this season and currently owns a five-game hitting streak. This weekend, he was the only player to record extra base hits in the final two games of the series, so while others are finding holes with singles, Gleason is providing the power at the clean up spot.
Take cover, birds and squirrels.
Gautier-Bredlau tandem setting the tone
For the one and two hitters in the lineup, it’s their job to get on base to allow a guy like Gleason to drive them in. This weekend, Rolando Gautier and Cayce Bredlau did just that by combining to go 12-for-25 with 13 runs scored.
Since his slump against Murray State, the senior Gautier has picked up the pace in the lead off spot by reaching base in eight consecutive games, and is second on the team in on-base percentage at .435.
Meanwhile, Bredlau has continued to thrive as of late in two hole as indicated by his .340 average in conference play. The freshman puts the ball in play finds ways to get on base, while also not striking out this weekend.
“I could always ask for more, but what they did this weekend was they did an outstanding job of getting on and scoring runs,” APSU head coach Gary McClure said. “I’m pleased with what they did in the top two spots. I think Ro is really swinging the bat well, and I think Cayce is at times. I still think he gives some outs away with pop ups and letting go of his top hand, but I don’t wanna take anything away from him. He’s doing a good job right now for the most part.”
Barring any major setbacks, those two spots in the order are set from this point forward.
Deciphering the Govs pitching puzzle
Let’s start with the positives, shall we?
Alex Robles has been the catalyst for the Govs all season, and earned his fourth win of the season on Friday by allowing four runs in six innings. The freshman right-hander has without a doubt been the biggest contributor to this team, but the question is, who will follow his lead?
Game 2 starter Jared Carkuff made his first appearance in the weekend rotation, but was only able to give APSU four and a third innings of work after throwing 79 pitches. In Game 3, Levi Primasing got the start, and was tagged for six runs (five earned) in only one and a third of an inning.
The other two spots in the rotation are the glaring weaknesses for APSU as starting pitchers not named Robles are now 8-18.
“I don’t think we’ve fixed anything,” McClure said. “I don’t think we’ve found anyone for Game 2 or found anyone for Game 3. Right now we got one guy (Robles) that we know we can put out there and he’s probably going to give us a chance to win.”
The bullpen is a mystery of its own with no guaranteed order. Granted, relievers were great on Friday, but it isn’t hard to pitch when you’re up by double-digits. On Saturday, A.J. Gaura pitched very well after replacing Carkuff, and while errors are to blame for some guys who were out, walks are piling up.
It’s a log jam with no clear closer or set-up position roles, but priority number one will be finding someone to step up and perform as a starter.
After fouling a ball off his left arm on Saturday, Ridge Smith did not play Sunday as a precaution. McClure said Smith has a deep contusion as he was in a lot of pain, but x-rays showed no broken bones. They expect him to be back in the lineup next weekend.
Things I liked
My favorite part where I look at little things that caught my attention.
- Chase Hamilton with a 3-for-6 day with three RBI on Friday, and also got hits in the other two games.
- Also on Hamilton, after moving from center to right field, he made a really nice sliding catch in the ninth inning on Friday. Definitely worthy of a gold star.
- Even after a long rain delay on Friday, fans still stuck around until after midnight to watch baseball. Props.
- Another fan note: two people put up hammocks by tying them from their vehicle to the tree on the hill in center. You never know what you’ll see at Raymond C. Hand Park.
- Jake Corum throwing just four pitches on Saturday to induce a crucial double play with the bases loaded.
- The dugout’s reaction as Garrett Copeland fouled off what would have been ball four to walk in the game-winning run. Although it didn’t end well, that moment was priceless.
- Senior pitcher Ryan Quick getting his first hit of his career.It wasn’t a bloop either. He smoked a ball up the middle in the 10th inning on Saturday.
- Kevin Corey going 2-for-2 in pinch hitting roles for the weekend, while also allowing just one hit in one inning of relief on Friday.
- Two catcher’s inference calls in one game with the same player (Matt Wollenzin) at the plate. This just shows how crazy of a weekend it was.
- And finally, Britte Underwood finally getting a chance to pinch hit in the 9th inning on Sunday.
Govs are now third from the bottom in the OVC
While there are still 15 conference games remaining on the schedule, now is the time where teams are checking the standings to see how the rest of the league stands.
Currently, APSU is ninth out of 11 teams, and after Saturday’s extra-inning loss, McClure said this could be one of the games where they look back and shake their head over if they are unable to reach the postseason.
“We don’t know what’s going to happen,” he said. “We don’t control our own destiny until we win some games. We gotta win all we can. We certainly can’t give games away and we’ve done that too many times.”
Southeast Missouri (24-11, 15-3)
Jacksonville State (21-14, 11-4)
Tennessee Tech (28-10, 11-7)
Murray State (15-18, 9-9)
SIU-Edwardsville (12-22, 9-9)
Morehead State (17-18, 7-8)
Eastern Kentucky (17-19, 7-8)
Belmont (15-20, 7-8)
Austin Peay (14-22, 6-9)
Eastern Illinois (11-24, 5-10)
UT Martin (4-29, 3-15)
Four-game road trip beings
The Govs will be at Southern Illinois on Wednesday, April 16 for a 4:30 p.m. first pitch before travelling to Belmont for a three-game series beginning on Thursday, April 17.
Photo: Dre Gleason (Corey Adams/The All State)