NASHVILLE — It took APSU six and two-third innings to record its first hit at Rose Park, but it was worth the wait.
Senior catcher P.J. Torres broke a tie in a pitching duel with a two-run home run to right field, leading to a 3-2 victory over Belmont on Friday, April 18.
The Govs (16-23, 8-9 OVC) were held in check up until the seventh inning as Belmont starter James Buckelew pitched effectively despite walking five batters. Even with the wind blowing in throughout most of the game, Torres got a good swing on ball to trot around the bases for his sixth homer of the season.
“The wind wasn’t blowing when I hit it,” Torres said with a smile. “It was good for us right there.”
While the Govs couldn’t ask for a better pitching performance than what they received last night from Alex Robles, who pitched a complete game by allowing just one hit, sophomore Jared Carkuff put APSU in position to win with six strong innings of work. The right-hander allowed just one run on four hits with 83 pitches thrown, and the deep fly by Torres put him in the decision for him to earn his first conference victory of his career.
“I’m proud of him,” APSU head coach Gary McClure said of his starting pitcher. “He did something he hasn’t necessarily done. He just came out and was a strike thrower and pounded the zone with all three pitches. He had a really good fastball and threw his slider for strikes, and he got some swings and misses on his changeup against left-handed hitters which was huge.”
Relievers A.J. Gaura and Ryan Quick combined to pitch the final three innings, allowing no hits. But the Bruins (16-22, 7-10 OVC) pushed one run across off Quick in the ninth with a sacrifice fly to center field to cut the deficit to 3-2. However, the senior blew a fastball by Spencer Petett to strand the tying run at third base to end the game.
It was the second save of the season for Quick, and Carkuff was able to breathe a sigh of relief once he saw the final pitch thrown to keep him in the decision.
“(They) are probably two of the best bullpen guys in the conference, so it didn’t worry me at all,” Carkuff said. “I knew they were going to get it done. That’s really nice when you can have that kind of trust in your bullpen.”
Carkuff allowed one run in the first inning after Jamie Ritchie singled, but the defense behind him played an error free game featuring many web gems. Torres made a diving catch on a pop up in foul territory, while third baseman Kevin Corey made a diving catch ranging to his left to rob a base hit. Up the middle, Logan Gray and Garrett Copeland combined for five put outs, which was good sign for the pitching staff.
The Govs will go for a series sweep over Belmont on Saturday, April 19 for a 1 p.m. first pitch as Alex Belew is scheduled to start for the first time this season.
Photo: P.J. Torres (Corey Adams/The All State)