COOKEVILLE - The "Cardiac Govs" struck again as Austin Peay State University's baseball team let a five-run lead dwindle to one run in the eighth inning before posting a 10-7 Ohio Valley Conference victory against Tennessee Tech, Friday, at Bush Stadium.
Austin Peay (33-21, 18-7 OVC) needed the victory to stay tied for first place in the OVC regular season race with Eastern Kentucky, which posted a win at Murray State earlier in the day. The Govs and Colonels, who are both assured a top-two finish in the league race, will enter the regular-season's final day battling for the regular-season championship at different venues.
The Govs led 8-3 after six innings that to timely two-out hitting. Austin Peay scored two runs in the first on third baseman Greg Bachman's two-out home run. APSU tacked on two two-out runs in both the fifth and six innings to build the five-run advantage.
Tennessee Tech (21-31, 10-15 OVC) went into Friday's contest knowing it needed a victory to maintain its hopes of reaching the OVC Baseball Championship. The Golden Eagles proved they would not go down without a fight despite the deficit, using an Austin Peay seventh-inning error to score a single run.
However, it was the eighth inning that saw the Golden Eagles ratchet up the pressure. Tennessee Tech put the first five batters of the inning on base, sending two Govs pitchers to the bench in the process.
Austin Peay reliever Mike Hebert started the eighth and promptly surrendered back-to-back outfield singles. He made was for Zane Leffew who was unable to stem the sudden Tennessee Tech tide. TTU designated hitter Tevis Sherfield greeted Leffew with an RBI single. Shortstop Chad Hayes was then hit by a pitch to load the bases. Center fielder Austin Wulf narrowed the deficit to 8-7 with a single through the right side, ending Leffew's night.
The Govs turned to closer Tyler Rogers with runners on the corners and no outs in the inning. Rogers struck out the first batter he faced before inducing an inning-ending double play to kill the threat with APSU leading 8-7.
Austin Peay fed off the momentum of that twin-killing, Bachman and catcher Matt Wollenzin hitting towering solo home runs to build the Govs lead back to 10-7.
Rogers could not shut the door without the Golden Eagles making a last threat. Tennessee Tech saw consecutive batters hit by a pitch with one out. However, Rogers settled in and got a strike out and a ground out to end the contest.
Austin Peay starter Casey Delgado (7-4) picked up the win after holding Tennessee Tech to four runs (two earned) on six hits while striking out seven over 6.1 innings. Rogers' six-out performance was good for his season's 11th save, tying the single-season mark held by Daniel Tenholder (2008).
Hankins, Bachman and shortstop Reed Harper - the Govs 3-4-5 hitters - combined for nine of the team's 12 hits and eight of its 10 RBI. Hankins went 4-for-4 with two RBI and a double. Bachman was 2-for-4 with five RBI, a double and two home runs - his third multi-home run outing this season. Harper was 2-for-5 with an RBI.
Tennessee Tech starter Matthew Shepherd (4-5) was saddled with the loss after allowing six runs on six hits over five innings. Wulf led the Golden Eagles offense with a 3-for-5, two RBI performance.
Austin Peay and Tennessee Tech will conclude the regular-season slate with a 1 p.m., Saturday contest.
NOTES: Bachman finished the night with 14 home runs this season, the most by a Govs batter since Michael Johnson's 18 home run campaign in 2002 and the seventh-most in a single season... Austin Peay first baseman Tyler Childress was 0-for-3 but walked in the first inning and has reached base safely in 22 consecutive games... Tennessee Tech was eliminated from the OVC Baseball Championship with the loss... the regular-season's final day will come down to pairing decisions as the six-team field is set... Austin Peay and Eastern Kentucky, who are both on the road, will play for the No. 1 and 2 seeds... Eastern Illinois and Jacksonville State will play one another in a game to determine the No. 3 and 4 seeds... Southeast Missouri and Morehead State will play at their respective home fields to determine the No. 5 and 6 seeds.