Austin Peay vs. Mercer
March 3rd, 4th & 5th | 3:00pm, 1:00pm, 1:00pm
Clarksville, TN | Raymond C. Hand Park
Clarksville, TN – Austin Peay’s baseball team will get a final weekend test before the start of Ohio Valley Conference play when it hosts Mercer in a three-game series at Raymond C. Hand Park.
The series opener has been moved up to 3:00pm, Friday to avoid inclement weather with 1:00pm contests to follow both Saturday and Sunday.The weekend series will feature two of Division I’s top home run hitting teams after two full weeks.
The Governors lead the nation in home runs per game (2.75) and slugging percentage (.642). Meanwhile, the Bears rank fourth in home runs (2.00 per game) and third in slugging percentage (.596).
Austin Peay (5-3) enters the weekend with a two-game win streak, including a 21-8 rout of Middle Tennessee, Tuesday, and a victory at No. 6 North Carolina State, Sunday. The Governors own a 4-1 record at Raymond C. Hand Park this season.
Mercer (7-2) began its season with seven consecutive wins, including against Southeastern Conference foe Georgia, February 21st. However, the Bears enter the weekend dropping their season’s first two road games, Tuesday and Wednesday, at Florida A&M.
With 22 home runs in their first eight games, the Govs enter the season’s third week leading all Division I teams in home runs per game (2.75) and slugging percentage (.692).
The Govs also were ranked among the nation’s Top 25 offenses in total home runs (2nd, 22), times hit by pitch (23rd, 13), on-base percentage (21st, .424) and just outside the Top 25 in scoring (26th, 8.9 rpg). Eleven different Govs have hit a home run already this season.
The APSU record is 12 different individuals with a home run in a season, last notched in 2015. Austin Peay tied a school record with nine doubles against MTSU, Tuesday. Following that effort, the Govs jumped from 194th to 39th nationally in doubles per game.
Senior first baseman Dre Gleason was named the D1Baseball.com Player of the Game, Tuesday, after his career-high seven RBI performance against MTSU that saw him go 4-for-5 at the plate. Senior utility man Alex Robles notched his 200th career hit at North Carolina State, Sunday, becoming the 18th Govs hitter to reach the milestone.
Senior right fielder Chase Hamilton is one of two Governors to reach base in each of the season’s first eight games (Gleason the other) and also owns a team-best nine walks. Redshirt freshman Parker Phillips is splitting time between third base and catcher through two weeks, but still is batting .407 with four multi-hit games in his rookie campaign.
Junior shortstop Kyle Wilson is battling through an early slump that has seem him limited to 3-for-27 in the last seven games after opening the year with a 3-for-5 outing. Junior second baseman Garrett Giovannelli snapped a early drought with a 3-for-7 outing against Middle Tennessee, Tuesday, that saw him hit two doubles in the seventh inning.
Sophomore catcher Alex Sala had a hit in each of the first two games at North Carolina State, including a solo home run in Saturday’s contest. Junior left fielder Cayce Bredlau suffered an injury in the N.C. State series opener and is day-to-day entering this weekend.
Toeing The Rubber
The Govs pitching staff enters the weekend ranked among Division I’s Top 60 in strikeouts per nine innings (52nd, 9.50) and strikeout-to-walk ratio (59th, 2.74). The current strikeout ratio would top the Govs record set in 1967. The Govs have racked up four pickoffs in the season’s first eight games.
The Govs used the Robles-Costanzo-Powell trio to headline a weekend series for a 12th consecutive week at North Carolina State. Austin Peay has a 21-12 record on weekends since moving to the current trio in 2016.
Due to the Bredlau injury, the Govs will shift their rotation for this weekend’s series. Junior left-hander Michael Costanzo will move into Friday’s start – his first Friday start since Week 2 of last season when he shutout Alcorn. Costanzo is 8-1 in his last nine home starts and is 8-3 in 11 career home starts. The order for the Govs next two starts will be determined after Friday’s outing.
Senior right-hander Alex Robles battled through a rough outing in a loss at North Carolina State last Friday. Robles is 12-5 in 23 career starts at home, including his season-opening victory. Senior right-hander Caleb Powell left Sunday’s game at North Carolina State in the lead but was left with no decision for a second straight start. Powell is 7-2 in 16 career starts at The Hand.
Next on the Schedule for APSU Baseball
Following the weekend set, Austin Peay will make a quick road trip to Evansville for a 6:00pm, Wednesday contest. The Govs then return home to open Ohio Valley Conference play next weekend.