Over the past two weeks, the APSU baseball team had seemingly begun to turn a corner on its season.
Even with a shorthanded roster, the Governors took series wins on the road from conference opponents in Belmont and Eastern Kentucky. The team entered a three-game set against Morehead State with an even 6-6 OVC mark.
Home runs from Garrett Spain, John McDonald and Bobby Head propelled APSU to a 13-4 win in the Thursday opener, and put them above the .500 mark in conference play for the first time this season.
But Morehead State (15-12, 6-3) piled on 26 runs in Friday’s doubleheader to take the series, 2-1.
“The last couple weeks, it felt like it was coming together a little bit and then [Thursday] was a really nice day and just [Friday] was a really poor day,” said Govs head coach Travis Janssen. “You have to feel like you regressed a little bit.”
Thursday night’s pitching tandem of Luke Brown and Harley Gollert stockpiled the Governors (10-19, 7-8) with 10 available relievers heading into Friday’s slate of games.
They were forced to use eight of them in the doubleheader after starters Nolan O’Shoney and Drew McIllwain were pulled early. O’Shoney left after one inning of work and McIllwain — who was making his second-ever start as an APSU pitcher — was removed in the fourth.
Game one saw the Eagles jump out to an 11-0 lead through three innings. A seven-run fourth inning, highlighted by a Knaje Guthrie grand slam, sparked a potential comeback as the contest progressed. Runs in the fifth and the seventh trimmed Morehead State’s lead to just two, but that was as close as the Governors would get, falling 14-9 in the nearly three-hour long game.
“[When] you’re down 11-0, it’s not a good mind frame to play baseball in, but our guys did mount a rally in the middle of the game,” Janssen said. “…I really thought we were going to win that first game, I really did.”
The second game came with bad luck for McIllwain. Errors and missed opportunities in the infield left seven Morehead State runs on the board in the first four innings. He struck out seven across 6 1/3 innings of work in his first start against Eastern Kentucky, but the redshirt freshman was limited to just 59 pitches on Friday.
Deep home runs from Ryley Preece, Bryce Hensor and Stephen Hill increased the MSU lead to 12-1 and effectively ended the contest after seven innings. Malcolm Tipler’s RBI double was the lone run scored for APSU in game two. The Govs stranded 10 base runners and struck out nine times in the nightcap.
“I think it’s so hard to continue to play from coming from behind, and all week we’ve been doing that,” Janssen said. “That’s hard to hit from, that’s hard to play and it is difficult. That’s difficult to do, and we didn’t. The second game, today…we just made the silliest of mistakes, and I’m not sure, I don’t know why we weren’t ready to play the second game.”
APSU travels to play at Ole Miss, UT Martin and Vanderbilt in the next week before returning home to play SIUE.