Austin Peay at Jacksonville State
Friday-Sunday, March 9th-11th, 2018 | 11:00pm, 11:00pm, 1:00pm
Oxford, AL | Choccolocco Park
Clarksville, TN – Austin Peay’s baseball team looks for its first road victory while also seeking to open Ohio Valley Conference play on the right foot when it meets Jacksonville State in a three-game league set, Friday-Sunday at Choccolocco Park in Oxford, Alabama.
The three-game set is scheduled to begin with 11:00am contest both Friday and Saturday followed by a 1:00pm, Sunday series finale.
Austin Peay (8-5) begins its first OVC set seeking answers on the road where it has not won in 2018, including losses to No. 9 Ole Miss and Samford during its current road trip. Those losses also extended the Govs current losing streak to three games as their offense has been suddenly quieted, batting just .202 with 3.3 runs per game in the losing streak.
Jacksonville State (9-3) has won five of its last six outings, including winning a three-game series, 2-1, at Florida International last weekend. The Gamecocks are 6-1 at home this season with all those games played at Choccolocco Park in Oxford.
Second baseman Garrett Giovannelli is ranked among the Top 10 in Division I in walks per game (1.23, 6th) and reached base in 10 of 16 (.625) plate appearances against Indiana State. Shortstop Garrett Kueber is ranked 29th nationally with six doubles in 2018 and leads the Govs with 13 RBI this season.
Andrew Flaherty has started each of the last eight games and is batting 13-for-31 (.419) in those starts and now leads the Govs in batting average (.372) and on-base percentage (.500) entering OVC play. Bobby Head and Malcolm Tipler have split time at third base this season; Tipler has three starts in the last five games with Head getting the start in Wednesday’s game at Samford.
Left field also has seen a rotating cast through the season’s first 11 games with Brandon Kelley, Nick Walker and Andrew Flaherty each starting in left field. Brandon Kelley has two left field starts in the last five games and came off the bench at Samford, breaking up a no-hit bid with a pinch-hit double.
Center fielder Imani Willis is batting 9-for-25 (.360) with five walks in the eight games since he returned to the starting lineup, February 23rd, reaching base in all eight games. Right fielder Nick Walker has appeared at all three outfield positions this season and saw a three-game hit streak (5-for-12, 4 RBI) stopped at Samford, Wednesday.
Catcher David Martinez‘ has reached base in four of his last six starts, including two walks, scoring once, against Indiana State, last Saturday. After posting just two hits in the opening week, first baseman Parker Phillips has reached base in nine straight games and has a walk in each of his last five; he hit a grand slam against Indiana State, March 2nd, for his first home run of 2018.
Outfielder Aaron Campbell made his third start this season at Ole Miss, Tuesday after going 2-for-7 with three RBI in two games against the Sycamores. John McDonald broke up a six-game hitless streak in the Indiana State series finale, March 4th, but had three RBI without a base hit in the first two games of the series.
The 2018 Governors offense is 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 14 different players make a start in the batting order so far this season and head coach Travis Janssen has utilized a different batting order in every game this season.
The Govs have hit 50 or more home runs in three consecutive seasons and in five of the last six campaigns, including last season’s record 84-homer campaign.
Toeing The Rubber
Left-hander Michael Costanzo is the reigning adidas® OVC Pitcher of the Week after striking out eight in a career-high tying seven innings en route to a win against Indiana State, last Friday. Fellow southpaw Jacques Pucheu has been the Govs No. 2 starter in the season’s first three weekends with APSU unbeaten in his three starts this season.
Governors pitchers have 113 strikeouts in 115 innings (8.84 K/9, 107th in Division I) this season, 87 of those coming in the nine weekend outings. 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.
Austin Peay returns home to start a four-game homestand with a 6:00pm, Tuesday contest against Middle Tennessee. The Governors then host Murray State in a three-game OVC set that will kick off the spring portion of the Heritage Bank Battle of the Border series.