BLOOMINGTON, Ind. – Designated hitter Michael Davis delivered again, providing a leadoff home run in the eighth inning to give Austin Peay State University’s baseball team a 5-4 victory against Valparaiso, Sunday, in loser’s bracket action of the NCAA Baseball Championship’s Bloomington Regional at Bart Kaufman Field.
No. 2 seed Austin Peay (47-14) advances to the Bloomington Regional final against No. 1 seed Indiana at 6 p.m., Sunday. The Govs will need to win twice – a second game would be played at 6 p.m., Monday – to claim the regional title while the host Hoosiers need one win to clinch the title and advance to next week’s Super Regional round.
Valparaiso (32-28), the home team on the scoreboard, posted two runs in its half of the first inning to take the early lead. Second baseman Tanner Vavra had a RBI triple for the game’s first run and scored on first baseman John Loeffler’s single.
Austin Peay scored in both the third and fourth innings to tie the game for the first time. Third baseman Jordan Hankins third-inning sacrifice fly got the Govs on the board. One inning later it was right fielder Tommy Hager who tied the game with a RBI single pushing across left fielder Cody Hudson.
The Crusaders regained its two-run advantage in the fifth. Austin Peay starter Ryan Quick surrendered back-to-back singles to start the frame. After a balk advanced the runners 90 feet, Valparaiso used back-to-back sacrifice flies to take a 4-2 lead.
The Govs again used single runs in the sixth and seventh innings to tie the game again. Hudson began the sixth with a double that saw him end up at third base on an outfield error. Davis followed with a deep fly ball to left to allow Hudson to score. Austin Peay battled for its run in the seventh, as first baseman Craig Massoni extended the inning with a two-out walk. Shortstop Reed Harper singled into shallow left, allowing Hankins to score and tie the game, 4-4.
Davis did not allow the tie to stand for long, giving Austin Peay its only lead of the contest with his leadoff home run in the eighth. It was his second game-winning home run of the regional tournament.
Reliever Lee Ridenhour (8-1) tossed 1.2 scoreless innings of relief for the win. He had to escape a bases-loaded, one-out jam in the seventh and did so with a pop out and strike out to keep Valparaiso off the board. He relieved Quick who allowed four runs on eight hits over 5.1 innings.
Closer Tyler Rogers tied the NCAA Division I single-season saves mark, notching his 23rd save with two scoreless innings.
Massoni, Harper, Hudson and Torres each had two hits to pace the Govs 11-hit attack.
Valparaiso reliever Ben Mahar (3-3) was tagged for the loss after allowing one run on three hits in 1.1 innings of relief. Starter Dalton Lundeen was left with no decision despite holding the Govs to four runs on six hits over 6.2 innings.
Vavra was 2-for-4 with two RBI to lead the Crusaders’ offense which posted 11 hits.