RICHMOND, Ky. – Austin Peay State University’s baseball team settled for a split of its Ohio Valley Conference doubleheader at Eastern Kentucky, dropping the opener 2-1 before winning the nightcap 10-8, Friday at Turkey Hughes Field.
Austin Peay (31-13, 12-7 OVC) struggled to hold a lead in both contests. The Govs led once in the first game and surrendered the lead quickly and built four leads in the second outing before making one hold up.
The day’s first game was a pitcher’s duel with neither team scoring through four innings. Austin Peay scored the game’s first run in the fifth, turning designated hitter Tommy Hager’s one-out walk into a run with back-to-back two-out singles – right fielder Rolando Gautier driving in the run.
Eastern Kentucky (15-25, 11-9 OVC) quickly leveled the game with a run in its half of the ninth. The Colonels followed the Govs template, turning a two-out walk into a run when catcher Stephen Hagan doubled down the left field line.
The Colonels would threaten again in the seventh inning, getting the first two runners aboard courtesy an error and a single. EKU advanced the runners with a sacrifice bunt, ending Austin Peay starter Lee Ridenhour’s outing. Closer Tyler Rogers entered the game and ended the threat with a pop out and fly out.
Eastern Kentucky would not be denied in the ninth. First baseman Bryan Soloman led off the frame on a single. The Colonels moved the runner with a sacrifice and the Govs countered by walking center fielder Austin Grisham. Third baseman Doug Teegarden then hit a chopper up the middle, but the Govs could only record one out leaving runners on the corners with two out. Hagan again hurt the Govs with a single up the middle to push home the game-winning run.
Rogers (5-2) suffered his season’s second loss after allowing one run over the final 2.1 innings. Ridenhour held Eastern Kentucky to one run over 6.1 innings despite struggling to find the strike zone – walking a season-high four batters – while scattering five hits.
Scott (2-1) picked up the series-opening victory with a scoreless ninth inning. EKU starter Brent Cobb held APSU to one run over 8.0 innings but did not factor into the decision.
The day’s second game got off to a controversial start in the Govs half of the first inning. Gautier led off the frame with a single and was destined to be stranded on base when first baseman Craig Massoni hit a hard ground ball down the third base line. The home plate umpire ruled the ball fair and Gautier scored on what was a double.
Eastern Kentucky bounced back in its half of the first, converting a one out walk into a run on right fielder Shaun Ball’s single, tying the game at 1-1.
Austin Peay’s offense built another lead quickly. After back-to-back singles to start the frame, center fielder Dylan Riner converted the hits into runs with a double into the left center gap, giving APSU a 3-1 lead.
Two innings later, the Govs extended their lead to 5-1 thanks to a Colonels miscue. Massoni hit a two-out single and then advanced to second on a wild pitch. After left fielder Cody Hudson singled to move Massoni to third, the Govs attempted a delayed double steal and succeeded as the catcher’s throw did not get to the second baseman and Massoni scored. Shortstop Reed Harper followed with a double to score Hudson.
Austin Peay starter Casey Delgado retired 10 of 11 batters after allowing the run in the first, but ran into trouble in the fifth inning. The first three Eastern Kentucky batters recorded base hits, shortstop Luke Wurzelbacher pushing home two runs with a single up the middle. Delgado would later be charged with a balk to score Wurzelbacher, cutting the APSU lead to 5-4.
One inning later, the Colonels would load the bases with one out when Delgado mishandled an attempted sacrifice bunt after allowing a walk and a single to start the sixth. Delgado responded with a strikeout for the first out, but hit Wurzelbacher to push home the game-tying run. Delgado would escape the inning with a strikeout and a line-drive out.
The teams traded runs in the seventh, each using an opponent’s miscue to score the run. Austin Peay gained a 6-5 lead when Hudson beat out a wild throw to first base and Massoni scampered home as the ball eluded the EKU defense. Eastern Kentucky tied the game again when Hagan singled to start the frame, stole second base and advanced to third on a ground out.
Reliever Hunter Lindley entered the game and his 1-1 pitch sailed high as he fell to the ground grabbing his arm. Hagan would scamper home during the play. The Govs turned to reliever Kacy Kemmer after Lindley’s injury and he would allow a pair of singles before getting a line-drive out to end the inning.
Austin Peay’s offense finally broke the game open with a two-out rally in the eighth. Second baseman Jordan Hankins RBI single was the third hit with two outs to drive home a run and move third baseman Kevin Corey to third base. Again the Govs turned to a delayed steal and again it worked as Corey scored and Hankins advanced to third on a wild throw. Massoni followed with a two-run home run to extend the lead to 10-6.
Eastern Kentucky did not go away, scoring a run in the eighth and another in the ninth. Austin Peay was forced to bring Rogers in to close the second game and he needed one pitch to end a threat that had the game-tying run on base.
Kemmer (4-0) was credited with the win after he ended the seventh inning. Rogers notched his season’s 17th save and third this week. Delgado would strike out a career-high tying 10 batters over 6.1 innings, but left with no decision after allowing six runs on eight hits.
EKU reliever Cody Creamer (1-1) was saddled with the loss after allowing five runs on seven hits in 2.1 innings. Starter Ben Gullo escaped with no decision despite allowing five runs on eight hits over 6.0 innings.
Austin Peay and Eastern Kentucky are scheduled to conclude their three-game OVC set with a noon, Saturday contest.