Austin Peay at Belmont
April 6th-8th, 2018 | 1:00pm, 2:00pm, 1:00pm
Nashville, TN | E.S. Rose Park
Clarksville, TN – Due to forecast inclement weather in Nashville, the start time for Friday’s series opener has been changed to 1:00pm.
Austin Peay continues its six-game road trip with another crucial Ohio Valley Conference test when it meets Belmont in a three-game series, Friday-Sunday, at E.S. Rose Park in Nashville.
The weekend set between teams tied for fourth place in the OVC standings saw the time for the series opener shifted to 1:00pm, Friday due to forecast inclement weather. The Govs and Bruins series continues with a 2:00pm, Saturday contest followed by a 1:00pm, Sunday series finale.
Austin Peay has won three of its first four OVC series, including last weekend’s series victory against Southeast Missouri. With this weekend’s series, the Governors will have faced each of the league’s top four teams in the current standings: first-place Tennessee Tech, second-place Southeast Missouri, third-place Jacksonville State and fourth-place Belmont.
Belmont has won two of its first four OVC weekends, sweeping Eastern Kentucky and UT Martin. The Bruins were handed a 2-1 series loss at SIU Edwardsville last weekend, riding a complete-game performance by Tyler Vaughn to a 15-1 victory. However, Belmont was held to six runs in the final two games of the series.
Austin Peay is ranked No. 80 in the NCAA’s April 4 RPI rankings. The Govs have recorded six or more walks 14 times this season and they rank 13th nationally with 163 base on balls (5.62 per game). Austin Peay also is ranked among the nation’s Top 50 in doubles per game (2.34, 14th) and scoring (7.0 runs per game, 40th) entering the weekend.
Shortstop Garrett Kueber has 17 hits (.560 BA) and 11 RBI in his last eight games, opening with back-to-back four-hit outings on March 18 and 20; he also owns a 27-game reached base safely streak. Second baseman Garrett Giovannelli currently has a 35-game reached base safely streak – the longest in the OVC this season; he is batting .386 (22-57) since moving into the leadoff spot, March 16th (12 games).
Third baseman Malcolm Tipler is batting .367 (18-49) with 10 RBI and 16 runs scored during his 13-game hit streak. First baseman Parker Phillips‘ bat has roared to life with a hit (11-34, .324) in seven of his last eight games and an RBI (14 total) in eight of his last nine games.
Outfielder/first baseman Andrew Flaherty tied his season high with three RBI in Game 2 of the Southeast Missouri series, March 30. Center fielder Imani Willis has two grand slams this season; he has reached base safely in 22 of the 25 games since returning to the starting lineup February 23rd.
Outfielder Kyle Wilson has started each of the Govs last 11 games, including eight consecutive games in the outfield; he has five hits in his last three games, including a pair of doubles. Outfielder Nick Walker missed five games and did not start another four, March 16th-30th, due to a lower-body injury but returned to the starting lineup in the Southeast Missouri finale, March 31st.
The 2018 Govs offense is a collectively young group with only 15 years of Division I experience between the 20 available position players entering the season. Since the start of OVC play 16 different Govs hitters have started a game and only third baseman Malcolm Tipler has started each of the 16 games since the March 9th OVC opener (only three have played all 16 games).
Toeing The Rubber
Game 1 starter Michael Costanzo was left with no decision for just the second time this season in last week’s start against Southeast Missouri despite allowing just four runs in six innings. Costanzo is the only OVC pitcher to rank among the league’s Top 5 in ERA (3.35), innings pitched (40.1), strikeouts (55) and opponent’s batting average (.238).
Game 2 starter Jacques Pucheu set career highs in innings pitched (7.1) and strikeouts (10) in a no decision outing against Southeast Missouri. He ranks third among OVC pichers in strikeouts (49), third in innings pitched (41.1) and sixth in opponent’s batting average (.239).
Austin Peay’s Game 3 starter will be a game-day decision. Govs pitchers have 227 strikeouts in 245 innings (8.34 K/9) this season. Austin Peay pitchers amassed a record-tying 466 strikeouts (8.07 K/9) last season.
Austin Peat’s six-game road trip continues with another visit to Music City when they face Lipscomb for the first time in 2018. The Governors and Bisons are set for a 6:00pm, Tuesday contest at Ken Dugan Field.