CLARKSVILLE - Junior A.J. Gaura struck out seven in his debut and Austin Peay State University's baseball team secured a 6-1 victory against Iowa, Sunday, to win the rubber game of the three-game set at Raymond C. Hand Park.
The second inning proved critical for Austin Peay (2-1) all weekend. The Govs scored two second-inning runs in Friday's contest en route to the win and were held scoreless in Saturday's second frame -despite having two runners on and one out - as Iowa routed the Govs.
The Govs broke through for two runs in the second inning, Sunday. Shortstop Reed Harper opened the frame with a home run to left center, getting APSU the first run. Austin Peay would take advantage of a pair of Iowa miscues later in the inning, catcher P.J. Torres scoring on an infield error to give APSU a 2-1 lead.
Iowa (1-2) scratched back one of those runs in the third as third baseman Nick Day hit a leadoff home run to left. The Hawkeyes put the tying run on board when right fielder Kris Goodman singled and was sacrificed to second. However, he was retired on a heads-up play by Harper who threw to third on a ground ball to record the second out. Torres would end the threat by catching a runner stealing second.
Starter A.J. Gaura (1-0) found cruise control from there, retiring the next seven batters he faced, including four straight via strikeout. Gaura would last 6.1 innings in his winning debut, allowing one run on seven hits while striking out seven and walking none.
Gaura would leave some trouble behind, as he surrendered three seventh-inning singles to leave the bases loaded with one out. However, reliever Jared Carkuff came on and caught a pair of hitters looking for strikeouts to end the threat.
Austin Peay's offense added two runs in the fifth inning to help Gaura's cause. Right fielder Rolando Gautier had an RBI double for the frame's first run. Iowa starter Calvin Mathews recorded the inning's second out before departing and reliever Andrew Hedrick could not close the frame. He would allow all three batters he faced to reach without a hit, including surrendering a bases-loaded walk to first baseman Craig Massoni to give APSU a 4-1 lead.
The Govs would tack on a pair of runs in the eighth, using a leadoff infield error and a walk to set up left fielder Dylan Riner who laced a double off the wall in right center to score the game's final runs.
Riner finished the day 3-for-3 with two RBI to lead an APSU offense that needed only five hits to score its six runs. Massoni and Torres each walked twice as Iowa pitchers surrendered six walks.
Mathews (0-1) picked up the loss after allowing four runs on four hits and two walks over 4.2 innings. Eight Iowa hitters recorded a hit, but none posted a multi-hit outing. Day led the Iowa effort with his 1-for-3 outing that included a solo home run.
Austin Peay will begin the road portion of its schedule when it travels down Interstate 24 for a 3 p.m., Tuesday contest at Middle Tennessee.