CLARKSVILLE - Austin Peay State University's baseball team got off to a slow start in all facets of the game and could not recover, falling to No. 19 Western Kentucky, 14-7, in non-conference action Tuesday night at Raymond C. Hand Park.
Western Kentucky (27-8) got its offense rolling right off the first pitch, second baseman Matt Payton driving Austin Peay starter Eric Davis' first offering over the right field wall. Catcher Matt Rice would add a two-out solo home run in the frame as the Hilltoppers jumped out to a 2-0 lead.
The Hilltoppers scored two or more runs in each of the first five innings, breaking out to a 14-1 lead, and were helped along by a Governors defense that committed five errors in those five frames and a APSU pitching staff that could not pitch out of the trouble those miscues created.
Austin Peay (17-16) finally settled down in the sixth inning. Reliever Zach Gerler came on in the top of the sixth and held Western Kentucky scoreless for the first time. The Govs offense responded in kind with five runs in the bottom of the sixth - outfielder Adam Browett's three-run home run providing the biggest boost.
The Govs threatened again in the seventh, scoring once and loading the bases. However, WKU reliever Ross Hammonds entered the game and got two outs without allowing another run.
Hammonds (3-0) went on to pick up the victory after holding APSU scoreless over the final 2.2 innings, allowing one hit. WKU starter Andrew Zimmerman held the Govs scoreless over two innings in his first career start.
Davis (2-1) suffered his season's first loss after allowing five runs on six hits over 1.2 innings. Gerler, Matt Kole and Dylan Ray combined to hold Western Kentucky scoreless over the final four innings - Kole striking out the side in the eighth inning.
First baseman Jake Wells led Western Kentucky with a 3-for-3, four-RBI outing. Third baseman Casey Dykes finished 2-for-5 with three RBI, including a two-run home run in the fifth - the Hilltoppers third home run Tuesday.
Browett's 2-for-3, three-RBI performance led Austin Peay's offensive effort. Catcher Trey Lucas' 2-for-3 outing was APSU's only other multi-hit effort.
Austin Peay continues its eight-game homestand when it hosts Jacksonville State in a three-game Ohio Valley Conference series, beginning with a 1 p.m., Saturday doubleheader.
- AP -