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. On Friday, March 21 through Saturday, March 22, the Govs traveled to Jacksonville State for the first Ohio Valley Conference road trip of the season. APSU won the opener 6-1, but dropped back-to-back games in a doubleheader to fall to 3-3 in conference play.
Seven run collapse ultimately cost the Govs a series win
With a 4-1 lead and Jake Corum working effectively on the mound, the Govs had every right to feel good going into the bottom of the sixth inning in game two of Saturday’s doubleheader.
A ground out by Tyler Gamble starts the inning. One out.
Gavin Golson singles to center. Okay, nobody hurt.
Michael Bishop flies out to center. Two out.
But fast forward 10 batters and the lead is suddenly gone, with Jacksonville State up 8-4.
The Govs used four pitchers in the inning to get three outs. There is no guarantee here, but assuming APSU gets out of that inning with no damage done, they probably go on to win the game. One tiny out cost the Govs a series win on the road.
APSU almost turned the tables on the Gamecocks by answering back with three runs the following inning to cut the deficit to 8-7, and put the go-ahead run at the plate in the ninth to give JSU a scare. However, Travis Stout halted the comeback to strike out P.J. Torres to end the game.
There have been several moments this season where the Govs’ pitchers have failed to finish off batters with two outs. All it took in that sixth inning on Saturday was one pitch in many spots to stop the bleeding, but it’s becoming a recurring theme once the game enters the later stages. The walks are piling up — with nine issued to go along with two batters hit — in the series finale alone. Caleb Powell put the Govs in position to win by allowing just one run in 4.1 innings, so it’s up to the bullpen to pick the starters up in relief.
Robles goes seven innings again, notches second win
The highlight of the weekend was without a doubt the work Alex Robles did on the mound Friday.
For the fourth consecutive start, the freshman went seven innings on the rubber, and the offense re-payed him with run support. Robles allowed just one run on six hits, did not walk a batter, and matched his career high in strikeouts with four. Before he exited, Robles retired 11 of his last 12 batters faced, and only threw 89 pitches throughout the course of the game.
That’s what happens when you don’t walk anyone.
The number one spot in the rotation is his. Senior Ryan Quick was given the weekend off after struggling with a 7.36 ERA, but Robles will be the Friday pitcher with the consistency he has shown week-by-week.
Gleason blasts first career home run
The first run of the weekend was delivered by Dre Gleason, who finally joined in with his freshmen teammates to hit his first homer as a Gov.
It was a lead-off solo shot in the second inning on Friday off Taylor Shields, and gave APSU its boost to end up scoring six runs in the game.
We’ve seen how far he hits balls in batting practice. We’ve seen how hard he smokes ground balls in live game action. And now we’ve seen his first homer, and there are certainly more on the way.
Gleason carried a six-game hit streak into Saturday, but it ended as he went hit less in both doubleheader games. However, the strikeouts have decreased — with just one over the weekend — so it appears he is seeing the ball much better.
Corey continues to produce
The great Jerry West was heralded as “Mr. Clutch” for his days in the NBA, but Kevin Corey has continued to fit the bill as well for the Govs.
Defensively, Corey has made crucial plays all season, and did so once again on Friday by saving a run on a diving stop from his position at third base. Head coach Gary McClure decided to pencil Corey in at designated hitter for both doubleheader games on Saturday, which is odd. Corey has just one error this season, while Logan Gray made his 15th in game two. Until Corey has an off game, he should remain in the starting infield.
At the plate, Corey currently leads the team with a 10-game hit streak dating back to March 11. His single in the seventh inning of the finale allowed the Govs to cut the lead to 7-6, and finished the weekend with three RBI and just two strikeouts.
He would sit fifth in the OVC in batting average at .410, but doesn’t have enough at bats to be considered in the ranks.
Things I liked
- A.J. Gaura pitching two innings in relief of Robles in game one. The junior did not allow a runner to reach base, facing the minimum.
- Cayce Bredlau. If it wasn’t for an 0-3 game in the first game on Saturday, the Northwest grad would lead the team with a 10-game hit streak. Even though the streak ended, Bredlau went 3-for-8 in the series with a pair of RBI.
- Another on Bredlau: He and Rolando Gautier collided on a fly ball, but the freshman held on to make the catch. Thankfully both were okay.
- Ridge Smith going 4-for-12 in the series, including a solo home run on Saturday. Smith leads the team in doubles with eight and RBI with 19.
- Rolando Gautier extending his hitting streak to seven games. The senior continues to set the tempo at the top of the order.
- A no-doubt-about-it home run by P.J. Torres in the series finale that, at the time, gave the Govs a 2-1 lead. Torres now has four on the season to lead all players.
- Torres stealing a base. Get this: the catcher is just one shy of being tied for the lead on the team.
- A nasty breaking ball by Jake Corum in the finale to strike out a batter in the fifth inning.
Mid week match-ups: Tuesday, March 25 at Evansville, 6:00 p.m.
Wednesday, March 26 vs. Evansville, 6:00 p.m.
Photo by Corey Adams (The All State)