CLARKSVILLE - Starting pitcher Lee Ridenhour struck out seven batters over seven innings and catcher P.J. Torres hit for three parts of the cycle as Austin Peay State University's baseball team opened the 2013 campaign with a 4-2 victory against Iowa, Friday afternoon at Raymond C. Hand Park.
Ridenhour began the game impressively - retiring Iowa in order in the first. His found his only trouble of the day in the second when he hit two batters and Iowa capitalized on third baseman Nick Day's single for a 1-0 lead.
However, Ridenhour settled in again and worked around errors in both the third and fourth innings before retiring the side in order in the fifth, sixth and seventh innings. Iowa attempted to shake the Govs starter in the fifth as the first two batters attempted bunts to reach base, but third baseman Kevin Corey gunned down both runners on bang-bang plays at the bag.
"Lee did what we thought he could do and what he is capable of doing," said Govs head coach Gary McClure. "He's going to give us a chance to win every time out because he competes and works hard on the mound. I thought our relievers also did a good job following up and closing the door."
Austin Peay's offense also applied pressure from the opening at-bat as left fielder Rolando Gautier singled to start the bottom of the first. The Govs would eventually have two runners on with one out, but shortstop Reed Harper lined into an inning-ending double play.
The Govs didn't allow the missed opportunity to dull their resolve as they struck for two runs in both the second and third innings. Left fielder Cody Hudson started the second with a one-out triple and was followed by Torres who hit a two-out triple, scoring Hudson to tie the game. Center fielder Dylan Riner followed with an RBI single to give the Govs the lead.
Austin Peay's two-run third inning was assisted by a walk issued to Gautier, second baseman Jordan Hankins being hit by a pitch with one out and Harper reaching on an error that scored the eventual game-winning run. First baseman Craig Massoni added a RBI groundout to close the Govs scoring.
"I thought we did a good job from the standpoint of getting guys over and getting them in," said McClure. "The first inning we left those runners stranded but our guys came back and got two runs in the second which I thought was huge. I think our offense did a great job of taking advantage of the opportunities we had early in the game."
The game turned into a pitcher's duel over the final five innings. Austin Peay would surrender a run in the seventh when reliever Kacy Kemmer surrendered a pair of base hits, including a two-out RBI single to shortstop Jacob Yacinich. Iowa's staff combined for five scoreless innings, but it was too little too late.
Ridenhour picked up the victory in his Govs debut, allowing one run on one hit over seven innings while striking out seven and walking none. Rogers picked up the season-opening save after retiring Iowa in order in the ninth.
Torres finished the night 3-for-3 with a RBI, following his triple with a fourth-inning single and a sixth-inning double before Iowa intentionally walked him in the eighth. Riner went 2-for-4 with a RBI while Harper extended his hit streak to seven games with an eighth-inning single.
Iowa starter Sasha Kuebel was tagged for the loss after allowing four runs on five hits while striking out six over five innings. The Hawkeyes' offense was held to three hits, with Yacinich finishing 1-for-4 with a RBI and Day going 1-for-3 with a RBI.
Austin Peay and Iowa continue their three-game series with an 1 p.m., Saturday contest at Hand Park.