Austin Peay at Vanderbilt
Tuesday, February 27th, 2018 | 4:00pm
Nashville, TN | Hawkins Field
Clarksville, TN – Off to its best start since the 2013 campaign, Austin Peay’s baseball team begins its toughest nine-game stretch of the season when it travels to nationally-ranked Vanderbilt for a 4:00pm, Tuesday, February 27th contest at Hawkins Field.
Austin Peay (6-1) swept its second straight weekend of action, taking three games from Toledo last weekend.
The Governors put forth their season’s best two offensive performances in Friday’s doubleheader before notching their first walk-off victory in Sunday’s finale.
Vanderbilt (7-1) brings a six-game win streak into the midweek matchup after sweeping UMass-Lowell last weekend. The Commodores pitching staff has not allowed more than two runs in any game during its six-game streak.
The 2018 Governors offense will be a collectively young group with only 15 years of Division I experience between the 20 available position players entering the season. Austin Peay has seen 13 different players make a start in the batting order so far this season.
First baseman Parker Phillips broke out of his season-opening slump with a 4-for-5 outing in the Toledo series opener, Friday, and is batting .308 this season. Second baseman Garrett Giovannelli did not have a hit in the Toledo series but walked four times, scored three times and batted in a pair of runs.
Shortstop Garrett Kueber leads the Govs with a .423 batting average and 10 RBI in the season’s first seven games, including hitting for the cycle in the Toledo series with his first collegiate home run coming in Sunday’s finale. Third baseman Bobby Head was 4-for-8 with five RBI against the Rockets, going 2-for-4 in each of his two starts.
Left fielder Brandon Kelley saw his four-game hit streak stopped after coming off the bench in the Toledo series finale, he has started four of APSU’s seven games in left. Center fielder Imani Willis returned from a two-game respite and promptly went 2-for-5 with a grand slam in his return tot he starting lineup, Friday, then hit a walk-off single in the Toledo series finale.
Right fielder Nick Walker saw his season-opening six-game hit streak snapped in the middle game of the Toledo series, but bounced back with a double and two walks in the finale. Catcher David Martinez‘ notched his first hit of 2018 against Toledo, Friday, a RBI single that provided the Govs first run of Game 2.
Utility man Kyle Wilson made starts in left field and designated hitter against Toledo, finishing with two hits and two walks in the series. Infielder Malcolm Tipler made one start at third base against Toledo and was 2-for-5 with a double int he series.
Austin Peay lost four regulars from last season’s team: Alex Robles, Dre Gleason, Cayce Bredlau and Chase Hamilton who accounted for 833 of the team’s 2051 at-bats, 48 of its school-record 84 home runs and 181 of its 360 RBI. Austin Peay hit a program-record 84 home runs last season, breaking the record set in 2001.
The Govs have hit 50 or more home runs in three consecutive seasons and in five of the last six campaigns.
Toeing The Rubber
Heralded freshman Harley Gollert is scheduled to make his first collegiate start at Vanderbilt, two days removed from his first collegiate victory in relief against Toledo. He has four innings of relief work under his belt, allowing two hits while striking out three batters. Gollert pitched this summer for Team Canada’s Junior National Team in the U-18 Baseball World Cup held in the Thunder Bay, Ontario.
Governors pitchers have recorded 65 strikeouts in 64 innings this season (9.14 K/9). Austin Peay pitchers amassed a record-tying 466 strikeouts (8.07 K/9)last season. It was only the fifth time in program history a Govs pitching staff has recorded 400 strikeouts in a season, all occurring since 2011.
Eleven different Govs pitchers started a game in 2017, six of those return for the 2018 season.
Following the midweek excursion to Nashville, Austin Peay returns home for a three-game series against Indiana State, which will be completing a seven-game stay in the Middle Tennessee area. The Sycamores competed in the Mule Mix Classic last weekend, sweeping the tourney with wins against Lipscomb, Middle Tennessee and Belmont. Indiana State faces Vanderbilt, Wednesday, before traveling to Clarksville.