CAPE GIRARDEAU, Mo. - Austin Peay State University's baseball team took advantage of a shaky Southeast Missouri defensive outing and a rock-solid effort from its pitching staff to post a 5-2 Ohio Valley Conference victory, Saturday afternoon, at Capaha Field.
For the second straight day, Austin Peay (13-10, 2-0 OVC) got a quality start on the mound, left-hander Zach Toney limiting Southeast Missouri to two runs over six innings. Set-up man Mike Hebert tossed two scoreless innings before closer Tyler Rogers shut the door in the ninth.
In fact, Toney was one pitch away from a shutout. However, the southpaw left a pitch up over the plate to Southeast Missouri third baseman Trenton Moses who just eked the ball over the fence in left center for his season's 11th home run in the third inning. Toney only worked into and out of trouble once, loading the bases in the sixth before escaping with a line out.
"I really tried to just fill up the zone today," said Toney. "I made one mistake to Trenton Moses - I left a ball up in the zone and he's a good hitter and he hit it out. But I just got back in the zone and started working and the rest of the day went well."
Meanwhile, the Govs offense struggled to find any offensive flow against Southeast Missouri starter Shae Simmons who struck out 12 of the 25 batters he faced over 5.2 innings. The only openings the Govs could find were through Redhawks defensive miscues.
"[Shae] Simmons is a good pitcher, the way he threw today I would say he's one of the best pitchers we've faced this season," said Governors head coach Gary McClure. "We hung in there and when we got opportunities we got big hits and took advantage of situations and that was key today."
The Govs broke onto the scoreboard first when left fielder Cody Hudson hit a hard ground ball at Southeast Missouri second baseman John Logan Zink, who misplayed the ball. In his effort to make up for the miscue, Zink threw wide of first base and allowed right fielder Dylan Riner to score.
But after Moses' home run in the bottom of the third, Simmons and the Redhawk defense settled down again until the sixth inning. Hudson again was the culprit as his hard ground ball got under first baseman Andy Lennington's glove and into the corner, allowing Hudson to reach second base.
The Govs later had men on the corners with one out when the SEMO defense struck again as Zink allowed a ball to get by him into the outfield, scoring the tying run. Catcher P.J. Torres followed with an RBI single, chasing Simmons from the mound and giving APSU a 3-2 lead it would not relinquish.
Austin Peay added a pair of insurance runs in the eight on a wild pitch and Torres' RBI single.
Toney (2-2) picked up the win with his quality start, striking out a career-high nine batters while allowing six hits. Hebert struck out two in his two innings while Rogers needed only one strike out in the scoreless ninth.
Torres' 2-for-4, two RBI outing led the Govs offense which posted only six hits in the win.
Simmons (0-4) suffered the loss despite a career-high 12 strikeout effort and surrendering only three unearned runs over 5.2 innings. Moses' 1-for-3, two RBI outing paced the Redhawks' seven-hit offensive attack.
The win assured Austin Peay of its school-record seventh consecutive OVC series victory. The Govs and Redhawks will close out the three-game OVC set with a 1 p.m., Sunday contest. Austin Peay right-hander Lucas Anderson (2-1, 3.86 ERA) will take the mound against Southeast Missouri left-hander Ryan Kendall (0-1, 6.14 ERA).