CLARKSVILLE - Austin Peay State University's baseball team needed a five-run fifth inning to complete a come-from-behind 12-8 victory against UT Martin, Sunday, in Ohio Valley Conference play at Raymond C. Hand Park.
Austin Peay (18-10, 6-0 OVC) won its seventh consecutive game and swept its second straight OVC series to open the 2012 league race. It also is the Govs best start to a conference race since starting the 2004 slate with a 6-0 mark.
Trailing 8-6 in the fifth, Austin Peay saw its game-winning rally started by shortstop Reed Harper for the second straight day. He had a leadoff triple to spark the Govs in the fifth inning of Saturday's win. Sunday, Harper struck again in the fifth with a leadoff double.
The Govs promptly followed that with singles by catcher P.J. Torres, right fielder Rolando Gautier and centerfielder Michael Blanchard - Gautier and Blanchard's hits each scoring a run to tie the game.
Designated hitter Jon Clinard turned the tide by lacing a pitch into the right field corner - against the defensive shift that had the right fielder playing well towards center field. Clinard turned it into a triple, scoring two runs and putting the Govs ahead 10-8. A UT Martin wild pitch allowed Clinard score, pushing the lead to three runs and they would not be threatened the game's remainder.
UT Martin (8-19, 2-4 OVC) certainly came out seeking to avoid the sweep. Catcher Chase Okey hit the game's first pitch from APSU starter Mike Hebert over the wall to right for a leadoff home run. The Skyhawks tacked on another run in the inning and led 2-0 before APSU came to the plate.
Austin Peay scored a run in the first and took its first lead, 3-2, in the second when Torres and first baseman Tyler Childress hit back-to-back home runs.
The Skyhawks promptly responded with four runs in the third, including a two-run single by shortstop Nico Zych. The Govs scored two runs in the third - on Childress' two-run single - but UTM answered again with two runs in the fourth to build a 8-5 lead. Austin Peay narrowed the deficit to 8-6 on third baseman Greg Bachman's sacrifice fly in the fourth.
After scoring eight runs in the first five innings, UT Martin was held scoreless over the final five innings. Reliever Chuck Edlin (1-2) earned the win by picking up the final out of the fifth and tossing a scoreless sixth. He was followed by Kacy Kemmer who pitched a scoreless seventh and got the first out of the eighth before putting two men on and leaving two men on.
Closer Tyler Rogers inherited those two runners and left them stranded as he retired eight of the nine batters he faced over the final 2.2 innings to record his season's sixth save.
Every APSU starter recorded a hit in the contest as the Govs rapped out 15 hits. Torres finished the day 3-for-5 with an RBI. Clinard ended the day 2-for-5 with two RBI, three runs scored and two stolen bases. Left fielder Cody Hudson, Childress and Blanchard also had two hits each.
UTM reliever Alex Boshers (1-3) suffered the loss after allowing five runs on six hits over 1.1 innings. Skyhawks starter Carter Smith allowed five runs on six hits and two walks over three innings.
Center fielder Matt Young led UTM with a 3-for-5, RBI outing. Okey ended the day 2-for-6 with an RBI. The Skyhawks recorded 10 hits in the loss.
Austin Peay wraps up its five-game homestand when it hosts Belmont in a 6 p.m., Tuesday contest.