APSU Men’s Baseball
Clarksville, TN – Austin Peay’s baseball team will host a brief one-game homestand when it meets Tennessee in a 6:00pm, Wednesday contest at Raymond C. Hand Park. It will be the Vols first ever visit to Clarksville in the 20th meeting between the two teams.The Govs (8-6) have stumbled in their last 10 games, posting a 4-6 mark. All aspects of Austin Peay’s attack have struggled during the stretch. The offense is batting just .275 and is averaging 6.7 runs per game. The Govs pitchers are surrendering a 6.13 ERA but of more concern is their collective 7.1 walks per game they have issued during the stretch.
Individually, the Govs freshman duo of second baseman Jordan Hankins and outfielder Rolando Gautier have impressed early on. Hankins has raced out to a .520 average with a hit in 13 of his first 14 games played. Gautier has nine extra-base hits during his current 13-game hit streak, and brings a .389 batting average into Wednesday’s contest.
However, Austin Peay’s “old guard” has not remained silent either. Junior outfielder Michael Blanchard is third on the team with a .368 batting average and .500 on-base percentage. Sophomore shortstop Reed Harper is fourth on the team with a .302 batting average after posting five hits and a team best .455 batting average at Arkansas State last weekend.
On the mound, the Govs will turn to freshman left-handed starter Alex Belew (1-1) who will make his fourth start this season. He left his last outing – a March 8 contest against South Dakota State – with the lead after allowing two runs and striking out seven over six innings, but did not factor into the final decision.
Tennessee (14-2) brings an eight-game win streak to Clarksville – its first road game and the start of a five-game road trip. The Volunteers swept a four-game series from Manhattan over the weekend and picked up a victory against Alabama A&M, Tuesday.
Senior third baseman Matt Duffy was named the SEC’s “Player of the Week” after batting .381 last week with two home runs and 12 RBI. He leads the SEC with 24 RBI and ranks among the league’s leaders in batting average (7th, .412), on-base percentage (2nd, .543) and slugging percentage (4th, .725).
Senior left-hander Rob Catapano is penciled in for his season’s second start. He picked up the victory in his previous outing, holding New Orleans scoreless over four innings, striking out five.
Notes From The Weekend That Was
Austin Peay lost the first two games of its stay at Arkansas State as the offense struggled, scoring three runs and posting just 10 hits. The Govs offense rebounded with nine runs on 13 hits in the series-finale victory – their season’s first road win. Shortstop Reed Harper and outfielder Rolando Gautier each had five hits for the Govs. Gautier had one of the Govs two RBI in the series opener and finished the series with a 3-for-5 performance.
Second baseman Jordan Hankins batted in the Govs lone run in the series’ second game. Third baseman Greg Bachman hit his season’s first home run as part of a 2-for-4, two RBI effort in the series finale. Austin Peay starting pitching posted a 1-2 record despite allowing just a 3.86 ERA (8 ER, 18.2 IP). Govs relievers had a tougher go of the weekend, posting a 15.63 ERA (11 ER, 6.1 IP) and allowing opponents to hit .471.
Coming Up: Illinois State
The Govs return to the road for the next seven games, beginning with a three-game set at Illinois State, Friday-Sunday. Since the two teams met February 26th – a 5-4 Austin Peay win – Illinois State has posted a 8-2 record and improved to 10-5 overall. This will be the Govs first visit to Normal, IL, since the 1997 season,when they won two of three games at Duffy Bass Field.