CLARKSVILLE - Senior designated hitter Matt Kole kept his hot April going, hitting a game-tying grand slam as Austin Peay State University's baseball team downed Vanderbilt, 5-4, in non-conference action, Tuesday night at Raymond C. Hand Park.
Austin Peay (22-18) was trailing 4-0 entering the sixth inning. Leadoff hitter Reed Harper reached on a walk and reached second courtesy a Vanderbilt error that allowed second baseman Jon Clinard to reach base. Centerfielder Jared DeLong singled to load the bases, bringing Kole to the plate.
Kole fell behind in the count, 0-2, before seeing a ball and then fouling a pitch off the plate and his head. He shook off the effects of that foul ball and drove the next pitch over the right field wall, tying the game. It was his sixth home run during the month of April and ninth home run this season.
Austin Peay manufactured the go-ahead run in the eighth, taking advantage of two Vanderbilt miscues. Right fielder Adam Browett received a one-out walk, the last pitch Vanderbilt reliever Richie Goodenow would throw. With two outs, Browett broke for second base and was hit by the throw from Vanderbilt catcher Andrew Giobbi as he slid into second. He popped up out of his slide and scampered to third base. Two pitches later, Russell Brewer uncorked a wild pitch that got away from Giobbi, allowing Browett to score what proved to be the game-winning run.
Vanderbilt (32-12) scored the game's first four runs. Centerfielder Connor Harrell led off the three-run third inning with a home run and third baseman Jason Esposito later added a two-run double for the early 3-0 lead. Giobbi added a leadoff home run in the sixth to close the Commodores scoring.
APSU reliever David Vicini (1-1) picked up the victory after coming on in relief for Kole in the eighth inning and stranding two runners on base as he struck out the first batter he faced, got an infield fly and a line drive out to close the inning.
Closer Zach Gerler picked up his season's ninth save after throwing a scoreless ninth inning, working around a one-out single and stranding that runner in scoring position with a ground out and a strikeout.
Austin Peay starter Jeremy Dobbs did not factor into the decision but limited Vanderbilt to four runs on six hits while striking out five over six innings. Vanderbilt stranded six runners on base with Dobbs on the mound. Kole took to the mound in the seventh following his home run and tossed a scoreless seventh inning, striking out two.
Goodenow (2-1) was tagged for the loss after surrendering one unearned run in two-thirds of an inning, finishing the seventh and starting the eighth. Commodores starter Grayson Garvin was left without a decision despite throwing five scoreless innings and striking out four. Esposito and Giobbi each had two hits to lead the Commodores' seven-hit attack.
Austin Peay makes a one-game roadtrip when it meets Belmont in a 5 p.m., Wednesday contest at Shelby Park in Nashville.
NOTES: APSU's victory snapped Vanderbilt's nine-game non-conference win streak... It is the second consecutive year Austin Peay has defeated Vanderbilt in Clarksville...The last three decisions in the series have been one-run affairs... Kole now has 29 RBI in April and 44 RBI overall... Austin Peay finished its eight-game homestand with a 5-3 record, winning its last four contests.
- AP -