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Ninth-inning rally comes up short as APSU Govs fall to Jacksonville State at OVC Tournament

 

APSU Sports Information

APSU Baseball - Austin Peay State UniversityJackson, TN – Down by seven runs heading into the final inning, Austin Peay State University ended the game with the potential tying run on second base as the Governors near-miracle rally came up short in dropping a 12-10 Ohio Valley Conference tournament decision to Jacksonville State, Friday afternoon, at the Ballpark of Jackson.

Austin Peay Baseball loses to Jacksonville State; falls into losers bracket at OVC Tournament. (APSU Sports Information)

Austin Peay Baseball loses to Jacksonville State; falls into losers bracket at OVC Tournament. (APSU Sports Information)

The Governors now fall into the losers’ bracket and will play 11:00am, Saturday, hoping to keep their tournament hopes alive in the double-elimination rain-delayed event.

In a contest that stretched nearly 20 hours to Friday morning because of nearly seven hours of Thursday rain and lightning, the Governors resumed by taking a 5-3 fourth-inning lead on a Garrett Copeland double. It remained that way until the bottom of the sixth when Jacksonville State scored two to tie.

It was the start of nine straight Gamecock runs—four more in the seventh and three more in the eighth. Those final three—which proved to be the game winning tallies—came on a Tyler Gamble three-run homer well over the left-centerfield fence.

APSU Baseball's Clayton SmithsonAt that point it seemed thoughts were fast forwarded to Saturday for both teams. But actually the Govs had other ideas. Alex Robles, who had tied the game Thursday afternoon 2-2 with a single to left field before the storms hit, opened the inning drawing a walk against Nate Sylvester.

Shortstop Clayton Smithson then ripped a double off the right centerfield fence. Copeland then was called out on strikes on a borderline pitch.

But Patrick Massoni walked to load the bases before Logan Gray also walked to force in the Govs’ first ninth-inning run and convinced JSU head coach Jim Case to call on his All-OVC closer, lefthander Justin Hoyt, who fanned the first batter he faced, Chase Hamilton, for the second out.

APSU Baseball's Ridge SmithHowever, Hoyt could not get the final out. Josh Wilson walked to force in the inning’s second run (12-7) before Ridge Smith narrowly missed hitting a grand slam, settling for a two-run double to slice the deficit to 12-9.

Dre Gleason then drew the Govs’ fifth walk of the inning to load the bases once again before Robles drew his second walk of the frame, forcing in the inning’s fifth run and cutting the deficit to 12-10. That became only the fourth run scored against Hoyt this season, entered the game with 11 saves and microscopic 1.00 ERA.

In fact, with the tying running on second and the lead run at first, Case removed his closer in favor of right-hander Garrett Farmer. Smithson swung at the first pitch he saw, sending a bouncing ball to the right of Gamble, who ranged for it and tossed it to Farmer, who recorded the one-out, one-pitch save, his second this season.

The Govs rally came largely result of walks, much of the same ingredient behind JSU’s sixth- and seventh-inning uprisings. In fact, in the five Friday innings, Govs pitchers walked seven batters—nine total for the game. Between the two teams strikezone they walked 20 batters in a less-than-liberal strikezone.

The Gamecocks took lead in the seventh on a bases-loaded 3-2 borderline inside corner pitch from Zach Neff to Gamble. Three more runs scored in that inning, two on a Peyton Williams single to left and the last on a base-loaded hit batsman.

APSU Baseball's Zach NeffAlthough Sylvester gained the JSU win, it was Grant Chandler who authored the Gamecocks best pitching performance. After allowing the Copeland go-ahead double, he held the Governors hitless fifth and sixth innings, ending any Govs’ momentum.

Although the scored 10 runs, the Govs did it with just eight hits, two apiece by Copeland and Smith, who were responsible for APSU’s most significant run-producing hits.

Copeland, who had two doubles on the day, finished with three RBI.


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