CLARKSVILLE – Austin Peay State University scored eight runs in the opening three innings and held on to win a 10-8 Ohio Valley Conference contest against SIU Edwardsville, Friday at Raymond C. Hand Park.
For the second consecutive game, Austin Peay (41-13, 21-7 OVC) got out to an early lead, scoring in each of the first three innings. Shortstop Reed Harper gave the Govs their first runs with a two-run home run in the first. In the two-run second inning, second baseman Brett Carlson and right fielder Rolando Gautier each had RBI base hits, pushing the lead to 4-0.
After SIU Edwardsville scored a run in the third, the Govs responded with a four-run burst in the bottom of the frame. First baseman Craig Massoni started the rally with a leadoff home run. Designated hitter Michael Davis, center fielder Dylan Riner and Carlson would each add RBI singles later in the frame and the Govs lead 8-1 after three innings.
SIUE (16-34, 10-19 OVC) started to figure out APSU starter Casey Delgado in the fourth and fifth innings. The Cougars struck for two runs in the fourth with three consecutive two-out hits, including third baseman Matt Highland’s two-run double that cut the APSU lead to 8-3.
The Cougars biggest threat came in the fifth inning as Delgado saw the first four batters reach base safely. Designated hitter Jacob Stewart had a RBI single followed by second baseman James Vazquez’ RBI double. First baseman Joel Greatting would bring home a run with a sacrifice fly and the Austin Peay lead was cut to two runs.
Delgado would then uncork a wild pitch allowing Vazquez to score, cutting the lead to one run, 8-7. But Delgado held the line there, forcing a pair of ground outs to end the threat.
Austin Peay immediately responded in its half of the fifth. After a single and a hit batsman led off the inning, the Govs used a sacrifice bunt to move the runners into scoring position. Second baseman Jordan Hankins could not get the ball through the drawn-in infield for a groundout. The Cougars then intentionally walked Massoni, loading the bases, to get to Harper. He would make the tactic backfire with a single into left center, scoring two runs and giving APSU a 10-7 lead.
Govs reliever Kacy Kemmer kept the door closed with three scoreless innings, striking out two. Closer Tyler Rogers pitched the ninth and surrendered a one-out triple and a RBI groundout before shutting the door completely for his 20th save and an OVC record-tying 32 career saves.
Harper continued to stay hot at the plate, recording his seventh consecutive multi-hit outing with a 2-for-3, four RBI outing. Massoni, the OVC’s batting leader, went 3-for-4 to push his average back up to .387. Riner posted his fourth straight multi-hit effort with a 3-for-4 performance.
Delgado (8-2) picked up the win after allowing seven runs on eight hits through five innings. He recorded six strikeouts and moved within three of breaking APSU’s single-season strikeout mark, finishing the day with 94 strikeouts.
SIUE starter Tony Schaeffer (2-5) suffered the loss after allowing six runs on six hits over 2.1 innings. Highland led the Cougars offense with a 2-for-4, two RBI performance while left fielder Nick Lombardo was 3-for-3.
Austin Peay and SIUE conclude their regular-season schedules with a noon, Saturday contest at Raymond C. Hand Park. The Govs will recognize their four seniors – Delgado, Rogers, Harper and Hudson – prior to the game’s start.