Bloomington, IN – Rallying from two-run deficits twice, at Bart Kaufman Field June 2nd, Austin Peay State University’s baseball team defeats Valparaiso University, 5-4, to reach the championship game of a NCAA regional for the second straight year.Austin Peay also reached the championship game at the Eugene, OR regional last year, but fell to host University of Oregon.
The Govs (47-14) – who with the win ties former Ohio Valley Conference member Western Kentucky University for the all-time single-season record for victories by a baseball team, will now face Indiana University June 2nd, 6:00p.m., needed to defeat the Hoosiers to force a second championship game on June 3rd, also at 6:00p.m.
Valparaiso (32-28) took an early lead, just three batters into their lineup, as the Crusaders scored twice in the bottom of the first inning against Governors starting pitcher Ryan Quick.
After a pop up by Andrew Bain to start the inning, Spencer Mahoney followed with a single up the middle.
That brought up Tanner Vavra, who laced a triple into right center field – just out of the reach of a diving Tommy Hager – scoring Mahoney all the way around from first for a 1-0 lead.
John Loeffler would close out the inning’s scoring, as he recorded an RBI triple to make it 2-0 Valpo, scoring Vavra.
Austin Peay would get on the scoreboard in the top of the third, cutting the Crusaders lead to 2-1.
Brett Carlson reached on a one-out infield single to start things and moved all the way around to third base as Dylan Riner reached – and advanced to second base – when Loeffler misplayed a throw from Vavra at second base.
Jordan Hankins would make the Crusaders play for the mistake, as he brought in Carlson in with a sacrifice fly to center field.
Austin Peay would tie the game in the fourth inning, 2-2, with Cody Hudson started the inning with a single through the right side of the Valpo infield, steal second base, and score an out later on a single to left field by Hager.
The Crusaders would retake the lead in the bottom of the fifth, scoring twice, with Bain and Mahoney recording back-to-back singles to start the inning and both advancing a base on a balk by Quick.
Vavra and Loeffler would follow with back-to-back sacrifice flies to score Bain and Mahoney to go up 4-2.
Michael Davis would take advantage of the mistake, as he scored Hudson with a sacrifice fly to center field.
The Govs would tie the game for a second time in the seventh inning when Hankins reaching on a fielder’s choice, move into scoring position at second base when Craig Massoni walked, and scored on a single to left field by Austin Peay’s all-time hits leader Reed Harper to make it a 4-4 game.
Austin Peay would take its first lead of the game, 5-4, in the top of the eighth inning on Davis’ sixth home run over the season to lead off the inning.
That final run would be all that the Govs would need, as the nation’s saves leader Tyler Rogers pitched scoreless eighth and ninth innings for Austin Peay to close out the game and seal away the victory.
Lee Ridenhour (8-1) would get the win in relief, with Rogers picking up his 23rd save of the season.
Valpo’s Ben Mahar (3-3) took the loss.
Bart Kaufman Field,Bloomington,IN
|Austin Peay Governors||0||0||1||1||0||1||1||1||0||5||11||1|
|2B: Hudson 1(21), Torres 1(11)|
|HR: Davis 1(6)|
|RBI: Hankins 1(54), Harper 1(59), Davis 2(18), Hager 1(6)|
|#P: Quick 91(53 Strikes), Ridenhour 30(19 Strikes), Rogers 38(20 Strikes)|
|2B: Schneider 1(5)|
|3B: Vavra 1(0)|
|RBI: Vavra 2(20), Loeffler 2(41)|
|#P: Lundeen 96(58 Strikes), Mahar 28(16 Strikes), Jacobs 5(3 Strikes), Kowalczyk 18(12 Strikes)|