APSU Men’s Baseball
Atlanta, GA – Austin Peay State University starting pitcher Jeremy Dobbs left in the third inning due to an injury and a normally stalwart bullpen suffered through a rough fourth inning in an 8-3 loss to Mississippi State, Saturday night, at Russ Chandler Stadium.
Dobbs, who battled a developing blister on his throwing hand from the game’s start, was in trouble quickly as three of the first four Mississippi State (36-23) batters reached base. Clean-up hitter Nick Vickerson plated the game’s first run with a double off the wall in right center. Dobbs would eventually end the inning with a fly out that left the bases loaded.After facing just three batters in the second, Dobbs found trouble again in the third facing six batters but again leaving the bases loaded as he struck out shortstop Jonathan Ogden looking to end the threat. He returned to the mound to start the fourth and after surrendering a bunt single and a sacrifice bunt, center fielder C.T. Bradford drove ball into the right field corner for an RBI triple.
After the triple, Dobbs showed some signs of discomfort on the mound and was visited by the Governors coaching and training staff. He stayed on the mound and surrendered a sacrifice fly to designated hitter Cody Freeman and threw two pitches to the next batter he faced before head coach Gary McClure returned to the mound to make the change.
However, the pitching change was the start of a wild sequence. Reliever Chuck Edlin entered the game with two outs and yielded back-to-back walks. Right fielder Jaron Shepherd hit a line drive off Edlin and into the gap between first and second base. Second baseman Jordan Hankins hustled and picked up the ball in time to throw home. His throw was wide of the plate and catcher Matt Wollenzin dove toward home as third baseman Jarrod Parks dove and the two players collided after Parks was called safe.
Head coach Gary McClure contested the call at the plate and was ejected from the contest. After a few moments for the Austin Peay coaching staff to gather itself, assistant coach Joel Mangrum went to the mound to make a pitching change, bringing in Mike Hebert.
Hebert was unable to stem the Bulldogs rush; hitting the first batter he faced to load the bases. Ogden singled deep into the hole at shortstop, allowing a run to score. Mississippi State wasn’t finished as first baseman Ryan Collins singled into left field, pushing another pair of runs across. The fourth inning came to a close on catcher Wes Thigpen’s RBI single, with Ogden caught out at home on a relay play from left fielder Jon Clinard to shortstop Reed Harper and finally to Wollenzin. However, the Bulldogs scored seven times and pushed their lead to 8-0.
Meanwhile, Austin Peay (34-23) had few answers for Mississippi State starter Evan Mitchell who kept the Govs scoreless through eight innings. He faced just four runners in scoring position and had a hand in cutting down one of those runners at home plate as Reed Harper could not get home before Mitchell’s throw in the third inning.
Austin Peay finally got to Mitchell in the ninth as a trio of pinch hitters each reached base to start the frame and forced the Bulldogs to make a pitching change. Govs designated hitter Cody Hudson greeted reliever Daryl Norris with a ground ball to first base where Collins mishandled the ball and allowed two runs to score. Outfielder Jon Clinard followed with an RBI single, cutting the deficit to 8-3.
However, Norris was able to stanch the Governors push with back-to-back strikeouts before inducing a game-ending fly out.
Dobbs (9-3) suffered the loss after allowing three runs on five hits over 3.2 innings. The Governors bullpen, which had not allowed a run in the postseason, was tagged for five runs in the fourth. However, reliever Andy Cox threw three scoreless innings – retiring nine of the 10 batters he faced – and Eric Davis tossed a scoreless ninth frame.
Mitchell (6-1) picked up the win in a career-best eight-plus inning effort. He allowed three runs on five hits and five walks while striking out eight.
The Governors offense continued its postseason struggles, mustering just six hits in Saturday’s contest. Center fielder Michael Blanchard had two hits while third baseman Greg Bachman and first baseman Hogan each added a hit.
Three Mississippi State hitters had two hits to pace a 10-hit attack. Collins finished with two hits and two RBI.
Austin Peay returns to action with a 3:00pm (ET), Sunday contest against host Georgia Tech in loser’s bracket action. The winner of that contest will face Mississippi State in a 7:00pm affair that will be the first of two possible games to determine the regional champion.