APSU Sports Information
Oxford, AL – First baseman Parker Phillips supplied a game-tying RBI then broke the tie two innings later with his second RBI as Austin Peay State University’s baseball team downed Jacksonville State, 7-4, in the Ohio Valley Conference opener for both teams, Friday morning, at Choccolocco Park.
Austin Peay (9-6, 1-0 OVC) trailed 4-1 entering the fifth inning when it pieced together a game-tying two-out rally.
With catcher Alex Sala and shortstop Garrett Kueber on base, right fielder Nick Walker doubled down the right field line to drive in both baserunners. One batter later, Phillips found paydirt in left field and Walker scrambled home, tying the game 4-4.
The Governors would break the tie in the seventh, again with two outs. Second baseman Garrett Giovannelli walked and stole a base before Phillips returned to the plate and hit a fly ball to deep center field that eluded the JSU defense and allowed Giovannelli to score.
Austin Peay would then tack on two insurance runs in the eighth when center fielder Imani Willis hit a two-run home run to left, setting the final score.
The come-from-behind effort came just in time for APSU starting pitcher Michael Costanzo (3-0), who won the first road game of his career. The left hander surrendered four runs on a pair of home runs – a three-run third-inning shot by designated hitter Trent Simpson and a fourth-inning leadoff home run in the fourth.
However, Costanzo would respond by retiring the final eight batters he faced, three via a strikeout, to make it through six innings allowing seven hits and a walk while striking out nine. Reliever Brett Newberg took over and faced one more than the minimum over his three innings to notch his season’s first save.
Two days after being held to two hits in a loss at Samford, Austin Peay’s bats broke out for 12 hits in Friday’s win. Phillips went 2-for-4 with two RBI to pace the Govs with Walker, left fielder Andrew Flaherty and third baseman Malcolm Tipler also posting two hits each.
Jacksonville State (9-4, 0-1 OVC) finished with eight hits in the loss – their second home loss of 2018. Relief pitcher Tyler Wilburn (2-1) suffered the loss after allowing the go-ahead run in his two-inning outing.
Who Governed: Parker Phillips
It hasn’t been an easy start to 2018 for Parker Phillips, Austin Peay’s leading returning hitter from 2017. However, Friday’s outing might be just the jolt he needed as his two hits both proved pivotal in the win. His fifth inning two-out single supplied the game-tying RBI. Two innings later he punched a double to the deepest part of Choccolocco Park to provide the tiebreaking RBI. They were his 10th and 11th RBI of 2018.
Constanzo A Road Winner
In his 26th career start – and ninth career road start – senior southpaw Michael Costanzo notched his first career road win. He entered Friday’s contest 0-4 in road starts during his career.
With his nine-strikeout performance, Costanzo became just the 23rd Governors pitcher to record 150 strikeouts during their career. He ended the day ranked 22nd in career strikeouts (157) and now begins the march toward the 200-strikeout plateau that has been reached by only six Govs pitchers all time.
Garrett Giovannelli (1-for-4, BB) and Garrett Kueber (1-for-4, BB) each extended their reached base safely streaks in Friday’s win, both now having reached base in all 14 games this season. Giovannelli now owns a 21-game streak reaching base safely dating back to last season.
OVC Opening Win Streak
The Governors won their OVC opener for the fourth consecutive season, defeating Jacksonville State in both the 2017 and 2018 openers preceded by wins against Eastern Illinois in 2015 and 2016.
Road Losing Streak Stopped
Austin Peay won its first true road game, Friday, ending a three-game losing streak on the road this season. However, with its three neutral site games from the opening weekend included, Austin Peay is now 4-3 away from Raymond C. Hand Park this season.
Next Up for APSU Baseball
Austin Peay and Jacksonville State are scheduled to resume their three-game OVC series with an 11:00am, Saturday contest at Choccolocco Park. The Governors, who will seek their fourth consecutive series win this season, will send left-hander Jacques Pucheu (1-0) to the mound.