APSU Sports Information
Clarksville, TN – Proving it’s never too late for a pivotal Ohio Valley Conference series, Austin Peay State University’s baseball team travels to Jacksonville State in a meeting between early league unbeatens.
The three-game set starts with a 6:00pm, Friday contest at Rudy Abbott Field. The Govs and Gamecocks then will play 1:00pm contests both Saturday and Sunday.The Govs (9-6, 3-0) bring a four-game win streak into the weekend series thanks to an outstanding run by their starting pitching.
APSU has received four consecutive quality starts from its starts, the quartet combining to limit opponents to five earned runs in 27 innings pitched – a 1.67 earned-run average.
While the pitching staff has done its job, Austin Peay’s offense also provided plenty of support. The Govs bats have supplied 38 runs in the four-game streak, including its season-best 14-run outburst against Northern Illinois, Wednesday. APSU has batted .343 during the win streak with four regulars batting over .400 each.
The Govs will seek to extend its win streak at a field that has proven inhospitable in the past. Austin Peay has just one OVC series victory in five trips to Jacksonville – winning the 2011 set, 2-1 – and are just 4-12 all time at Rudy Abbott Field. The Govs also have lost the last two OVC series to the Gamecocks.
Junior first baseman Dre Gleason is the nation’s No. 5 hitter with a .473 batting average and also is ranked among Division I’s top 10 in on-base percentage (9th, .567) and slugging percentage (6th, .891). Since seeing his 40-game reached base safely streak end, second baseman Garrett Copeland has pieced together a six-game hit streak (.391).
Senior shortstop Clayton Smithson, who has generally batted in the bottom two spots in the order, has driven in 7 RBI over his last five games, including five RBI in Game 2 of the EIU set.
Junior third baseman Logan Gray has missed the last two games for precautionary reasons while nursing an upper-body injury. In his place, junior transfer TJ Conroy started Wednesday’s contest at third base and went 2-for-5 with two RBI. Junior utility man Ridge Smith has quietly composed a nine-game hit streak (13 hits, .382, 14 RBI) while starting at catcher, third base and left field.
Senior outfielder Patrick Massoni added two more sac hits against Eastern Illinois and his five sac hits in 2016 leads the OVC (12th nationally), but missed Wednesday’s game due to an illness. Senior outfielder Josh Wilson has six hits in his last five games, bumping his average up 66 points in that span. Junior outfielder Chase Hamilton snapped a brief hitless streak (11 ABs) with a 2-for-5 outing against Northern Illinois, Wednesday.
The Govs suffered a significant loss when junior left fielder Cayce Bredlau suffered a lower-body injury in the Mercer series opener. In the four games since his loss five different players have started in the outfield. For the first time since 1988 a new face is guiding the Governors with first-year head coach Travis Janssen coming to Austin Peay after four seasons at Division II Northeastern State (Oklahoma).
Toeing the Rubber
Austin Peay starting pitchers held Eastern Illinois to four earned runs in 21 innings – a 1.71 ERA. The trio of Robles, Costanzo and Neff also had 16 strikeouts against just three walks. Junior right-hander Alex Robles will make his 22nd career OVC start as the Govs No. 1 and owns a 12-4 career mark in OVC play with a 3.33 ERA.
He is 1-1 all time against Jacksonville State, his lone win coming in 2014 in Jacksonville. Sophomore left-hander Michael Costanzo seeks his first road win of 2016 after starting the season with three wins in three starts in Clarksville. Sophomore lefty Zach Neff will look to build on his quality start for a win against Eastern Illinois, his first collegiate victory.
Jacksonville State (10-5, 3-0) brings its own four-game win streak into the weekend set, sweeping its OVC-opening series at SIU Edwardsville last weekend before downing Oral Roberts, Tuesday, to start its current homestand.
At SIUE, the Gamecocks needed late rallies in both the first and third games to post victories. Jacksonville State batted a league-leading .367 during the SIUE series as both sophomore catcher Hayden White and senior outfielder Elliot McCummings went 6-for-11 (.545).
In addition, senior first baseman Tyler Gamble had two home runs – part of 13 extra-base hits by the Gamecocks in Edwardsville. Senior right-hander Graham Officer has moved from the bullpen into the No. 1 role and is 1-1 with a 5.40 ERA, but is averaging just 4.5 innings per start.
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