Senior catcher P.J. Torres knew coming into the season he had to be a focal part of the Austin Peay offense, and played a huge role on Saturday in another double-digit hit game for the Govs.
In day two of the Riverview Inn Classic at Raymond C. Hand Park, the Govs defeated the Bradley Braves 10-6, led by Torres who went 3-for-4 with a double, triple, and solo home run in the seventh inning that allowed the Govs to stretch the lead after going hitless since the third. Torres has had his ups and downs this season at the plate, but after almost hitting for the cycle, his hard works is paying off as his father, Peter Torres, has been his motivator.
“I gotta give credit to my dad every time he’s here I don’t know what it is,” Torres said with a laugh. “I’ve been working late nights just figuring out. I really think this year I’m probably one of the biggest parts of this team. Right now, everybody is coming together and just all the production this team has been doing and all the grinding we’ve been doing is looking great for us right now.”
The Govs jumped out to a 5-0 lead, which started with a well-placed bunt by Garrett Copeland. A double by Alex Robles would score the eventual game-winning run, and four more would follow. Torres doubled home two runs, while Logan Gray lifted a sacrifice fly to give APSU breathing room early on.
A triple in the third by Torres, who now leads the team in that category, led to another run as Dre Gleason brought him home for his first RBI of the season. A single by Kevin Corey allowed Rolando Gautier to tack on another, giving the Govs a 7-2 advantage after three innings.
The run support gave the starting pitcher, Robles, a chance to work through the Bradley lineup, not allowing a string of runs until the fifth inning when the Braves put up a three spot. A bunt single by Brady Wilkin and throwing error by Copeland ignited it, and Bradley capitalized with a couple RBI singles and fielder’s choice. However, Robles pitched seven innings, the longest a starter has gone this season for the Govs, and stuck out four while allowing just one walk.
“I thought he threw the ball outstanding,” head coach Gary McClure said. “He had three pitches, they were all quality, and he located really well. He made a couple mistakes, but he gave us seven innings and that’s just a great job.”
With the Govs holding on by a narrow 8-6 margin following the homer by Torres, the game was handed over to the bullpen. Caleb Powell pitched two-thirds innings before closer Jared Carkuff entered with two outs in the eighth to get a big strikeout, leaving a runner stranded at second base.
The Govs added a couple insurance runs in the bottom half of the inning as Chase Hamilton hit the first home run of his collegiate career, a two-run shot well beyond the right field wall. The deep fly gave APSU their 11th hit of the contest.
With prior substitutions made, the on deck batter with two outs in the eighth was Carkuff. If you flashback to last season, former closer Tyler Rogers faced the same situation with the bat in his hands, but could not be taken out due to the fact he was going back to have a save opportunity in the ninth. Rogers went down swinging in 2013, but Carkuff kept the bat on his shoulder to strike out looking, yet he wanted to swing so badly.
“He (Rogers) got to swing, but I was told I would be in trouble if I swung,” Carkuff said. “I wanted to really bad, but we couldn’t take the chance of fouling on off the leg or something.”
The Braves totaled just one hit in the final two innings as the relievers finished the job, with Carkuff picking up his second save of the season.
Austin Peay will go for a weekend sweep on Sunday as they are scheduled to play Xavier at 1:00 p.m.