Freshman Matt Marsh and converted infielder Zach Gerler combined for five shutout relief innings as Austin Peay State University defeated Iowa, 13-8, in the Riverview Inn Classic at Raymond C. Hand Park.
The victory improves the Governors to 2-0 in the young season as they will complete tourney play by hosting Illinois State, noon, Sunday. Iowa fell to 1-1.
In his first college appearance, Marsh came on in relief of senior David Vicini in the Iowa fifth—Vicini was making his first appearance after missing almost all of 2009 after Tommy John surgery. With Austin Peay clinging to an 8-7 lead, Marsh entered the game with runners on second and third with no outs.
After allowing the tying run to score on an infield groundout, Marsh then struck out clean-up hitter Dallas Burke and fifth-place hitter Sean Flanagan to get out of the inning.
That allowed the Govs to regain the momentum in the bottom of the inning. Leadoff hitter Michael Blanchard roped a triple to center field to score Cody Hudson, who had walked, with what proved to be the winning run.
The Govs added two runs in both the seventh and eighth inning to provide a more comfortable advantage. One of the RBI came off Blanchard’s second triple. Outfielder Adam Browett also drove in his day’s fourth run with a double in the eighth.
Blanchard, in fact, finished the day with three hits while Clinard added two, as did catcher Trey Lucas, who drove in three runs, and Browett.
“Blanchard and the other guys at the top of the lineup are getting on base and putting the pressure on the defense,” APSU coach Gary McClure said. “Blanchard already has scored something like six runs in two games.
“We also are playing great defense so far, making just two errors, both on exchanges from catcher to second base.”
But the day belonged to Marsh, the 6-3 Knoxville native (Clinton HS) . He allowed just one base runner over the next two innings. As he began to tire with two outs in the eighth, McClure turned to Gerler to close it out. The righthander, who batted just .171 as a transfer infielder from Lincoln Land College a year ago, allowed just one meaningless single in the eighth before retiring the Hawkeyes in order in the ninth. Gerler is considered the No. 1 candidate to be the Govs’ closer in 2010.
“Marsh, in his first game in college game, comes with runners on base and he gets out of it with the game tied by striking out two hitters in a row,” McClure said. “That was the ball game right there. Then he literally threw four shutout innings of baseball against a really good hitting team.
“And Gerler just came in and threw strikes—he has good stuff.”