CARBONDALE, Ill. – Austin Peay State University’s baseball team saw an error put it in an early whole before it nearly pulled off an improbable comeback before falling 10-9 in non-conference action against Southern Illinois, Wednesday afternoon, at Abe Martin Field.
With the game tied 4-4 entering the bottom of the sixth, Southern Illinois (16-16) saw its first two batters reach base against reliever Alex Belew. Austin Peay turned to Ryan Quick out of the bullpen to stifle the Saluki run, and saw shortstop Ryan Rosthenhausler use a sacrifice bunt to advance the runners. The Govs countered by intentionally walking second baseman Jake Welch to load the bases.
Quick then induced what appeared to be a ground ball for an inning-ending double play, only to see the ball slip under second baseman Jordan Hankins glove and into the outfield. The miscue permitted a pair of runs to score. Quick compounded the miscue when his pickoff throw to second sailed into center field, allowing the runners to advance. Right fielder Austin Montgomery quickly made the Govs pay for the miscues with a single to left, scoring two more runs. Southern Illinois would tack on a fifth run on catcher Luke Mottashed’s single to take a 9-4 lead.
Austin Peay (25-9) could not solve the Southern Illinois bullpen until the eighth inning. Right fielder Rolando Gautier walked to start the frame and scored when designated hitter Michael Davis launched a home run over the wall in left, cutting the deficit to 9-6.
Southern Illinois tacked on what proved to be the key insurance run in its half of the eighth. Center fielder Rennie Troggio led off the frame with a single and stole second base. That steal proved crucial as Montgomery laced a single into the right center field gap, scoring Troggio with what proved to be the game-winning run.
That did not mean the game wouldn’t get interesting in the ninth. Southern Illinois closer Todd Eaton quickly got two ground outs, but found the third out elusive. Third baseman Brett Carlson, a late defensive substitute, singled up the middle. Right fielder Rolando Gautier followed with a run-scoring double to the wall in left center.
Things got even more interesting when Davis came to the plate and hit a grounder to shortstop where SIU’s Rosthenhausler saw his throw to first pull the runner off the bag, allowing Gautier to score.
The strangeness continued when shortstop Reed Harper struck out swinging. However, the wild pitch eluded the catcher, allowing Harper to reach first base. The Salukis catcher attempted to prevent Harper from reaching base, but his throw sailed into right field, allowing Davis to score and Harper to reach second base, the SIU lead trimmed to 10-9.
Southern Illinois could not retire pinch hitter P.J. Torres, instead he walked to put two men on, still with two outs. However, the Salukis finally escaped the jam when first baseman Kyle Schlatter grounded into a fielder’s choice, the SIU third baseman stepping on third to end the game.
Davis led the Govs offense with a 2-for-5, three RBI outing that included a RBI double in the third and his two-run home run. Harper added a 2-for-5 outing in his first game batting No. 7 in the lineup.
Belew (0-1) was tagged for the loss after both the runners he left on base scored in the sixth. APSU starter Jared Carkuff lasted 2.2 innings and allowed four runs on six hits.
Montgomery led Southern Illinois with a 3-for-5, three RBI outing. Troggio was 2-for-3 with two RBI and Jones was 2-for-5. Reliever Matt Murphy (3-1) picked up the win as he held the Govs without a run or a hit in three innings of work.
Austin Peay, which is amidst a four-game losing streak, continues its six-game road trip when it meets Southeast Missouri in a three-game Ohio Valley Conference series, beginning with a 6 p.m., Friday contest in Cape Girardeau, Mo.