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Govs surrender lead, rally to down Jackrabbits
Courtesy: Cody Bush, APSU Sports Information
Release: 03/08/2011
Redshirt freshman...
Courtesy: Robert Smith/The Leaf-Chronicle

CLARKSVILLE - Austin Peay's baseball team surrendered a five-run lead but battled back with a big eighth inning to secure a 10-7 victory against South Dakota State, Tuesday night, at Raymond C. Hand Park.

Austin Peay (7-3) scored the game's first five runs and led 6-2 entering the seventh inning. However, the Govs had to sit on that lead for over two hours as rain delayed the contest.

Following the extended break, South Dakota State (2-5) was able to take advantage of a pair of Austin Peay miscues to score the game's next four runs, tying the game. The Jackrabbits scored in the seventh when centerfielder Billy Stitz was hit by a pitch to start the inning. He would score two outs later on shortstop Eric Cain's single.

South Dakota State loaded the bases in the eighth, starting with first baseman Erik DeJong's leadoff double. Austin Peay reliever Jeremy Dobbs entered the game and walked two and struck out two, loading the bases.

Jackrabbits catcher Joel Blake hit a ground ball to shortstop Reed Harper who turned and threw the ball to third. However, the ball skipped by third baseman Greg Bachman and into the Govs dugout. After an extended discussion, the Jackrabbits were awarded three runs on the play, tying the game. Dobbs would strikeout the next batter he faced to end the inning.

But the Govs did not break, rallying for four runs in its half of the eighth. Center fielder Michael Blanchard started the rally with a one-out triple down the right field line. Right fielder Jon Clinard was hit by a pitch and Harper was walked to load the bases.

Second baseman Jordan Hankins hit a weak grounder to the right side of the mound and Blanchard beat the throw home. First baseman John Hogan kept the rally going with an RBI single through the left side. Designated hitter Cody Hudson finished the rally with a two-run single lined right back past the pitcher, giving APSU a 10-6 lead.

The Jackrabbits put their first three batters in the ninth inning on base, including a RBI single by DeJong, but Dobbs settled back in to force a fielder's choice and a pair of strike outs to end the threat.  

"We basically persevered," said Govs head coach Gary McClure. "I'm proud of the guys. We started off great but we left some guys on base in the middle of the game and allowed South Dakota State to get back into the game. We bent but we didn't break and we got it going when we had to. That's how we've played this year - we seem to find a way to battle and get it done when we have to."

Hogan finished the game 3-for-5 with three RBI, including a home run and a triple. Hudson also was 2-for-4 with three RBI, including a solo home run. Blanchard also had three hits for the Govs who pounded out 14 hits.

Dobbs (2-0) recorded the final six outs for the win, allowing three runs on two hits and three walks while striking out five. The Jackrabbits late comeback wiped out a quality start by Alex Belew who allowed two runs and struck out seven over the first six innings.

"Alex threw really well today, said McClure. "His only rocky inning was the first and he got out of that without giving up a run.  After that I thought he settled in and made some good pitches."

DeJong led the SDSU offensive effort with a 4-for-5, three-RBI effort that included a home run and two doubles. Reliever Trever Vermeulen suffered the loss after facing seven batters in the eighth, recording one out.

Austin Peay and South Dakota State will continue their midweek series with a 4 p.m., Wednesday contest.

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