APSU Sports Information
Clarksville, TN – A four-game Easter Week slate against Kentucky squads comes to an end as Austin Peay State University (APSU)’s baseball team hosts Murray State and a three-game Ohio Valley Conference set. The series begins with a 6:00pm, Thursday contest due to the Easter Holiday.
The Govs and Racers then continue the series with a 6:00pm, Friday matchup followed by a 1:00pm, Saturday contest.The Governors (10-9, 3-3 OVC) return to the cozy confines of Raymond C. Hand Park after posting a 1-3 record during their four-game road trip. APSU suffered a three-game sweep in its OVC series at Jacksonville State, last weekend, before bouncing back with an impressive 16-2 win at Western Kentucky, Tuesday.
Austin Peay’s weekend matchup against Murray State promises plenty of offense with the OVC’s top two offenses facing off. The Govs trail Murray State in both batting average and runs scored per game. However, Austin Peay leads the Racers in home runs per game and slugging percentage.
The Govs will look to snap a recent slide against the Racers. Murray State has won the last two OVC series and five of the last six games played. Those games have been very close affairs, with five of the six decided by three runs or fewer.
Junior utility man Ridge Smith has jumped into the race for the OVC home run lead, his eight home runs ranking second in the league and eighth nationally. Smith also owns the Govs longest active hit streak (13 games).
Junior first baseman Dre Gleason bounced back from a one-hit weekend at Jacksonville State to go 2-for-4 at Western Kentucky and is now ranked 28th nationally in batting average (.426). Senior shortstop Clayton Smithson had three hits at Western Kentucky, extending his hit streak to seven games (.370 BA, .630 SLG).
Junior second baseman Garrett Copeland notched his first home run of 2016 in the Jacksonville State finale, Sunday, as part of a 3-for-15 weekend. Junior transfer TJ Conroy has started the last five games at third base and has five RBI in that span.
The Govs outfield continues to be in flux with opening-day starters Cayce Bredlau (left field) and Patrick Massoni (center field) missing all of Week 5. Junior Chase Hamilton started three of the week’s four games in center field and had a hit each game, including a patient 1-for-1, four-walk outing in the Jacksonville State finale which saw him hit a two-run home run. His four walks in a game tied the APSU record held by several players.
Junior designated hitter Alex Robles also was held in check with just two hits in the JSU series, but went 2-for-5 with 3 RBI, including a double, at Western Kentucky, Tuesday.
Behind the plate the trio of Smith, sophomore T.J. Marik and freshman Alex Sala continue to split time. Alex Sala notched his first collegiate hit at Western Kentucky, Tuesday. T.J. Marik ended a three-game hitless stretch with his season’s second base hit.
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). Austin Peay is just 2-6 in road games this season but is 8-3 at home.
Toeing the Rubber
Game 1 starter Alex Robles has allowed five earned runs in his first two OVC outings (3.00 ERA) but suffered his season’s second loss after allowing four earned runs in seven innings at Jacksonville State. Sophomore lefty Zach Neff is penciled in as the Game 2 starter and will seek redemption after allowing eight runs in the first inning of the Jacksonville State finale.
Sophomore left-hander Michael Costanzo slips into the No. 3 role in order to maintain his normal rest between starts. He is 3-0 in three starts at Raymond C. Hand Park this season.
About the Murray State Racers
Murray State (11-12, 3-3 OVC) brings a potent offense into this weekend’s series, ranking nationally in batting average (19th, .317), doubles (16th, 2.43 per game), walks (4th, 124), on-base percentage (10th, .419) scoring (17th, 8.2 runs per game) and slugging percentage (13th, .495).
The Racers have four players with 20 RBI this season, each ranking among the OVC’s Top 12: junior catcher Tyler Lawrence and junior first baseman Ramsey Scott (26 each), junior outfielder Brandon Gutzler (24) and junior outfielder Adam Bauer (21). Murray State ranks ahead of Austin Peay in batting average (.303-.270), ERA (5.47-7.76) and fielding percentage (.963-.956) after two OVC weekends.
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