EUGENE, Ore. - Austin Peay State University's baseball team surrendered two ninth-inning runs and fell to No. 5 national seed Oregon, 6-5 in opening round action of the NCAA Baseball Championships Eugene Regional at PK Park.
Austin Peay (38-23) carried a 5-4 lead into the bottom of the ninth inning and brought in closer Tyler Rogers to start the frame. However, Rogers yielded a walk and then hit a batter to start the inning. Oregon moved the runners over with Aaron Jones' sacrifice bunt and Austin Peay responded by intentionally walking Ryon Healy to load the bases with one out.
Oregon (43-17) scored the game-tying run on Brett Thomas' infield single, but not without controversy. Thomas' chopper was fielded by Rogers who ran towards the runner sprinting from third. Rogers appeared to tag the runner, but the home plate umpire ruled the tag was not applied and the runner was safe. The Govs were unable to bounce back from the sudden change in momentum, Rogers yielding another infield chopper that third baseman Greg Bachman could not field, allowing the game-winning run to score.
The Ducks jumped out to an 2-0 lead through four innings. Oregon scored a run in the first after Austin Peay starter Zach Toney surrendered a leadoff double to Kyle Garlick followed by Ryan Hambright's single. Brett Hambright brought home the game's first run with a sacrifice fly. Two innings later, Oregon took advantage of a throwing error by Toney to plate a second run.
The Govs stormed back in the fourth when Cody Hudson led off the inning with a single. Michael Blanchard was hit by a pitch and Austin Peay promptly moved the runners over with Jon Clinard's sacrifice bunt. Jordan Hankins stepped to the plate and lofted a three-run home run into the Oregon bullpen, giving APSU a 3-2 lead.
Oregon regained the lead in the sixth, striking for two runs. After Ryan Hambright led off the inning with a single, Brett Hambright moved him over with a sacrifice bunt. Vernell Warren then attempted another bunt and Toney fielded the ball but his throw went wide of first base and into the right field corner, allowing a run to score. J.J. Altobelli followed with an RBI double, giving Oregon a 4-3 advantage.
Austin Peay scored in both the seventh and eighth innings. The Govs capitalized on Jordan Hankins' leadoff walk when he scored on a double play to tie the game. One inning later it was another leadoff walk - this time to Tyler Childress - that the Govs used to take the lead. Pinch hitter P.J. Torres moved Childress to second with a sacrifice bunt and Childress then moved to third on a throwing error. Hudson flew out to deep right, allowing Childress to score the go-ahead run.
Rogers (4-4) suffered the loss after allowing two runs on a hit and two walks in the ninth. Toney went 5.2 innings but was tagged for 11 hits and allowed four runs. Reliever Zane Leffew retired all seven of the eight batters he faced to bridge the gap between Toney and Rogers.
Hankins 2-for-4, three RBI outing was the highlight of Austin Peay's offensive outing. Bachman also went 3-for-5 at the plate to pace the Govs nine-hit effort.
Jimmy Sherfy (5-2) picked up the win, throwing 1.1 scoreless innings. Starter Jeff Gold was rescued from the decision after allowing three runs on seven hits through 4.1 innings.
Oregon's offense posted 13 hits, Ryan Hambright posting a 4-for-4, two-run scored outing to lead the effort.
Austin Peay returns to action when it faces Indiana State in loser's bracket action beginning at 4 p.m. (CT), Saturday. The Govs will turn to right-hander Andy Cox to square off against Sycamores' left-hander Sean Manaea.