CLARKSVILLE -Pitchers Alex Belew and Zach Toney combined for a four-hit performance as Austin Peay posted a 7-3 victory against Valparaiso, Sunday afternoon, at Raymond C. Hand Park. The Govs completed the three-game series sweep of the Crusaders.
Belew got off to a rough start, allowing the first three batters he faced to reach base. Each of those three would score as Valparaiso (0-3) sent eight men to the plate in the opening inning and took a 3-0 lead.
However, Belew allowed just two base runners over the next four innings. A walk surrendered in the third was wiped out in an inning-ending double play. Two innings later Belew surrendered a single, but ended the frame with back-to-back strikeouts.
Toney took over in the sixth and ran the strikeout streak to six as he struck out the first four batters he faced. He ultimately did not allow a baserunner, retiring all 12 batters he faced - part of a game-ending stretch of 14 consecutive batters retired.
Belew (1-0) picked up the victory after allowing three runs on four hits and striking out five. Toney picked up the Govs' first save with four scoreless innings while striking out seven.
"Alex and Zach really did a great job," said Govs head coach Gary McClure. "If you throw the way they threw and you play defense the way we did you're going to win ballgames and that's what we did today."
Those eight scoreless innings after the first provided more than enough time for Austin Peay's (3-0) offense to get started. The Govs scored a run in the second and then scored two in the fourth, one in the fifth, two in the sixth and a final run in the eighth.
"We stopped them, which is what you have to do first, and gave us a chance to score runs," said McClure. "Our offense got the job done. We pecked away, didn't try to do it all at once and got some big hits and some big stolen bases. "
Designated hitter Rolando Gautier had a big hand in the offense, finishing 2-for-4 with two RBI. He scored APSU's first run after leading off the second with a double and scoring on center fielder Michael Blanchard's sacrifice fly.
Gautier batted in a run in the fourth with a triple that bounded into the outfield. He would score on catcher P.J. Torres single up the middle, as the Govs tied the game. Gautier then gave Austin Peay the lead in the fifth when his ground out to shortstop allowed first baseman John Hogan to scamper home.
Eight of the Govs starting nine recorded a hit in the 10-hit affair and five different players finished the day with at least one RBI.
"I was pleased with the way our offense produced today," said McClure. "Twice we had a runner on second base with no outs and we able to hit a ground ball behind them to move them to third and then get them in. That's playing the game the way you're supposed to play it."
Valparaiso's Tyler Deetjen (0-1) was tagged for the loss, allowing four runs on seven hits over five innings. Center fielder Chris Manning had the Crusaders only multi-hit performance, going 2-for-4.
Austin Peay returns to action with a 3 p.m., Friday contest against Illinois State in the first game of the Riverview Inn Invitational which also will include Milwaukee.