BOWLING GREEN, Ky. – Shut out through seven innings, Austin Peay State University’s baseball team rallied for three runs in the final two innings to secure a 3-1 victory against Western Kentucky, Wednesday night, at Nick Denes Field.
The win was Austin Peay head coach Gary McClure’s 776th career win, tying the Ohio Valley Conference record for career wins set by former Murray State head coach Johnny Reagan.
Western Kentucky (16-13) scratched out an early run off APSU starter Jared Carkuff, capitalizing on a leadoff walk in the second inning when catcher Ryan Messex singled past second baseman Jordan Hankins. It would be the only scoring opportunity the Hilltoppers would have as the Govs pitching staff limited WKU to six base runners the game’s remainder, none reaching scoring position.
Austin Peay (24-5) could not solve Western Kentucky’s pitching through the opening seven frames. The Govs had a runner in scoring position with one out in both the first and second innings but could not get the run home. Austin Peay put a runner on third with one out in both the sixth and seventh, but again were turned away and trailed 1-0 after seven innings.
The Govs broke through in the eighth as the combination of left fielder Cody Hudson and shortstop Reed Harper connected. Hudson singled up the middle with two outs and promptly stole second base. Harper followed with a single into the right center gap, scoring Hudson to tie the game.
Austin Peay saw the first two batters in the ninth retired before the top of the order extended the inning. Right fielder Rolando Gautier walked and Western Kentucky followed by bringing in closer Ian Tompkins. The move backfired as center fielder Dylan Riner singled into the right center gap and Gautier moved to third. \
That brought second baseman Jordan Hankins to the plate and he lined an 0-2 pitch into the left center gap. WKU center fielder David Simmons, who entered the game in the ninth, made a diving attempt but could not make the catch. Gautier and Riner scored on the double, giving APSU a 3-1 lead.
Closer Tyler Rogers entered the game in the bottom of the ninth and retired the Hilltoppers in order for his season’s 12th save, tying his own APSU single-season saves mark.
Reliever Don Whitson Jr. (1-0) picked up the win after tossing a scoreless eighth innings, striking out one. Carkhuff finished the night without a decision after holding WKU to one run on four hits while striking out five over 5.2 innings. Relievers Ryan Quick and Hunter Lindley combined to toss 1.1 scoreless innings.
Hankins had the Govs only multi-hit outing, finishing the game 2-for-4 with two RBI. Austin Peay was held to seven hits in the win, four coming in the final two innings.
WKU reliever Taylor Haydel (0-1) suffered his season’s first loss after allowing one run in 0.2 innings. Hilltoppers starter Jake Thompson held the Govs scoreless over his five-inning outing, striking out three and allowing one hit.
Messex had WKU’s only multi-hit outing, finishing the day 2-for-2 with a RBI. Western Kentucky was held to four hits.
Austin Peay returns home for a three-game Ohio Valley Conference series against Tennessee Tech, beginning with a 6 p.m., Friday contest at Raymond C. Hand Park.