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 UT Martin on Saturday, May 10 and Sunday, May 11, while Game 3 is scheduled for today at noon.
APSU fell 6-3 in 12 innings in Game 1, but came back in Game 2 to win 10-2.
For a full recap on each game, click the links below:
The sights and sounds of Senior Day
Senior Day is one my favorite days of baseball season, but then again, it also hurts to see players I’ve covered for two years play their last series at Raymond C. Hand Park.
I do enjoy it, though, because it has a more-relaxed feel to it. It makes things even better when the home team wins 10-2, which meant all senior position players made an appearance in the game.
Earlier in the day, nine players walked out with their families, and were each given a specially made picture and jersey. I could write an entire section on each player, but I’m going to keep this relatively short on how each player handled senior day.
Michael Burns – Burns was one of the nine seniors who was honored, and without his managing duties of bringing balls to umpires, raking the field, and bringing players water, the Govs would suffer. I don’t think people realize how hard managers work to prepare for a game, and Burns has done it for years. He may not have a jersey to show for it, but a picture and a lot of memories from the dugout will suit him.
Kevin Corey – There is so much to be said about Corey, other than the fact he has a great last name. He’s a very humble person, and I now see where he got that from as his father, Dana, is one of the nicest guys you’ll ever meet. Corey was joined on the field alonside his dad, mother Susie, and wife Summer. In October, the couple will have a son named Cooper, a name I like a lot for what it’s worth. As for Corey’s play on the field, I’ll get to that in the next section.
Ryan Quick – The soft-spoken Quick handled it like it was just another day, but I did see him smile for the first time this season. His parents Steve and Beth Quick joined him on the field, along with one of his sisters I believe. Although he didn’t enter out of the bullpen on Sunday, the day prior he pitched in relief and could do the same one more time at RCHP on Monday.
Mason Dillon – Dillon was joined by his parents on the field, and had a smile on his face the entire time. Despite not getting many opportunities to play throughout his career, it seems like Dillon has enjoyed his time as a Gov. On Saturday, he got a chance to pinch-hit, and did the same on Sunday. Cayce Bredlau said after the game Sunday: “I was hoping Puma would hit one to the street out there.” I’m not sure if Dillon prefers “Puma” or ” Bigcat” as a nickname, but both suit him well.
Rolando Gautier – No one had a better day than Gautier. After the game was pushed back due to a bad weather in the area, Gautier called his teammates together for a memorable moment in his life. Luckily, I stepped out of the press box just in time to watch him propose to his girlfriend Amanda as the rain started to fall. Bredlau said that it sort of helped loosen the mood of the team, and Gautier continued to produce at the plate as he went 2-for-5. He is also the new leader in school history in terms of walks, but I’m sure he’d rather have that moment in front of the baseball moment over any record.
P.J. Torres – When it comes to who had the most family in attendance, I don’t anyone can top the Torres family. When his music hit the first time he walked to the plate, claps and chants of “Pepe, Pepe” filled the park. I’m now realizing today will be the last time I will get to hear it, so that is saddening because it has become a favorite to us all. It’s also going to be weird not seeing his father, Peter, standing at his reserved spot by the home dugout. I got a great shot of father and son in the photo album, and I know both of them will cherish the time spent in PJ’s four years at APSU.
Britte Underwood – It’s time to break out the #WeWantBritte hashtag again. Underwood entered Sunday behind the plate, but was left standing on deck after three outs to not get a chance to bat. After all the work he has done in getting pitchers ready, I really hope we get to see him take some hacks today. When he’s not in the bullpen catching pitch after pitch thrown to him, Underwood is always encouraging pitchers from the dugout. Another vital part of the team that goes unoticed sometimes.
Matt Wollenzin – It’s been a tough last couple of years for Wollenzin as injuries and now lack of playing time has caused his overall production to go down, but will still leave a nice career behind him. In every picture I have taken of him, he has the same expression on his face with a one of a kind smile on his face. “Dan” got a chance to play on Saturday, and on Sunday, recorded a hit while scoring a run. Just an easy-going guy whose leadership will be missed.
Alex Belew – Today will also be the last time we hear the most creative walk out song on the team as Belew will make his final appearance on the mound at RCHP. I’ve come to learn that Belew is a character, but in a good way. Belew is the only player on this year’s team to stay five years, and turned out to be a reliable option for the Govs this season both out of the pen and starting.
Corey, Carkuff brilliant on the bump
As a whole, the APSU pitching staff was solid in both games, but most of that praise is directed at two individual performances.
Kevin Corey came on in relief in Game 1, and pitched five and a third innings. Despite being given the loss an error cost the Govs, the right-hander allowed just three hits and one earned run, while striking out five men. You really can’t ask for anything better than what the senior did, and even made a couple nice defensive plays from the mound to help himself.
“That was a heck of a job at what he (Corey) did tonight,” infielder Garrett Copeland said. “It was definitely A+ by him, and he shouldn’t get his head down because of what happened. He’s definitely one of the guys who can bounce back and probably throw an inning to help us win the series.”
In Game 2, the offense may have caught your eye, but it was Jared Carkuff who pitched excellent.
Carkuff set two career-highs on Sunday, first by going seven innings, and also racked up six strikeouts to get the win. It was the perfect time to have a career game as the Govs needed a quality start from their pitching staff, and he did just that.
“Carkuff got us off to a great start on the mound and pitched pretty well throughout the whole game,” APSU head coach Gary McClure said. “He got us deep into the ballgame, so I thought that was really important. The first two innings he pitched out of jams and did a great job doing that. I thought that was key tonight.”
Bredlau continues to boost lineup
It’s hard to top what freshman Cayce Bredlau is doing right now to help this Govs lineup score runs.
The Northwest grad is now batting .408 in conference, which is outstanding, and has gone from a guy who just lays down bunts to a quality run producer. Bredlau was a home run away from the cycle on Sunday, and hit his first triple of the season. I don’t know how the speedster hasn’t had one this season, yet he said with a smile that maybe he’s not running fast enough.
That’s not the case at all, though.
Bredlau also made one of, if not the most impressive defensive play I’ve seen by an APSU player this season. While in center field, Bredlau charged a ball and timed his dive perfectly to make a beautiful catch.
Things I liked
The section is back this week!
- The remainder of the bullpen in Game 1 to shut UT Martin down to zeros until the 12th inning. Six pitchers were used to do it.
- Corey making a nice off-balance throw from the mound to gun a runner out at first.
- Bredlau with no strikeouts in the two games. Every other player who came to the plate did except for him, so that’s saying something.
- Gautier walking out to ‘Marry You’ by Bruno Mars in his first at-bat. Very creative move there by Mr. Brian Rives to play that for the newly engaged man.
- The Govs offense executing with two outs in a couple innings on Sunday.
- A great play by second baseman Logan Gray to grab a line drive to his right on Sunday.
- Hey, another web gem. This time it was Ridge Smith who made a diving play in left field. But when asked which catch was better out of Bredlau’s or Smith’s, Carkuff said Bredlau and let Smith know it.
- All senior position players getting a chance to play on Senior Day.
*Southeast Missouri (33-17, 23-7 OVC)
Tennessee Tech (37-15, 17-10 OVC)
Jacksonville State (29-21, 17-10 OVC)
Morehead State (26-24, 14-13 OVC)
SIU-Edwardsville (19-30, 14-13 OVC)
Eastern Illinois (18-31-1, 12-14-1 OVC)
Austin Peay (20-31, 12-14 OVC)
Murray State (20-28, 12-15 OVC)
Belmont (22-28-1, 11-15-1 OVC)
Eastern Kentucky (22-29, 11-16 OVC)
UT Martin (9-37, 5-21 OVC)
*clinched regular season title
Game 3 Preview
- Pitching match-up: UTM’s RHP Alex Martin (0-7, 5.27 ERA) vs. APSU’s LHP Alex Belew (0-1, 4.72 ERA)
- The Govs are 15-19 when a right-handed pitcher starts, compared to a 5-12 record against lefties.
- First pitch will be at noon
Photo: P.J. Torres (red) and hitting coach Derrick Dunbar share a hug on Senior Day (Corey Adams/The All State)