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APSU Baseball opens 2019 Season hosting Kentucky Wildcats

 

APSU Sports Information

APSU BaseballClarksville, TN – The Austin Peay State University (APSU) baseball team opens its 80th season when it hosts Southeastern Conference foe Kentucky in a three-game series, Friday-Sunday, at Joe and Cathi Maynard Field at Raymond C. Hand Park.

Austin Peay Baseball plays the Kentucky Wildcats at Raymond C. Hand Park this weekend. (APSU Sports Information)

Austin Peay Baseball plays the Kentucky Wildcats at Raymond C. Hand Park this weekend. (APSU Sports Information)

Due to inclement weather, the season opener has been moved to a noon, Friday start. The opener will be followed by 1:00pm contests both Saturday and Sunday. Friday and Sunday’s contests will be available on the Governors Radio Network.

Austin Peay was picked fourth in the Ohio Valley Conference’s preseason poll, released Friday. The Govs feature a pair of Preseason All-OVC picks in utility man Parker Phillips and pitcher Jacques Pucheu, who was named the league’s Preseason Pitcher of the Year.

Kentucky was tapped to finish sixth in the SEC Eastern Division in that league’s preseason poll. The Wildcats also have a pair of preseason all-conference choices with designated hitter T.J. Collett and pitcher Zack Thompson.

Clubhouse Groundbreaking

Also due to the season-opening schedule change, the Austin Peay athletics department will hold a ceremonial groundbreaking on the main concourse at 12:30pm, Saturday, prior to the start of that day’s game.

Austin Peay State University will recognize Joe and Cathi Maynard and Doug and Linda Downey will be recognized for their contributions to the baseball program’s new clubhouse during the ceremony. Construction on the new clubhouse facility will begin following the conclusion of the 2019 home schedule.

First Hacks

Austin Peay has hit 50 or more home runs in six of the last seven seasons and 60-plus home runs each of the past three seasons.

Redshirt junior utility man Parker Phillips, a Collegiate Baseball Preseason All-America selection, will open 2019 as the Govs starting right fielder, his fourth different position since joining the team.

Phillips tied the Govs single-season home run record last season and was invited to the College Home Run Derby in Omaha during the summer.

Phillips will lead the Govs new-look outfield unit which includes rookies Griffin Rivers and Garrett Spain.

Rivers, a sophomore transfer, posted a .420 on-base percentage at Pensacola State College and is expected to start in left field for APSU.

Spain, a freshman, batted .513 with Clarksville High last season and would be the first freshman to start in center field since Chase Hamilton in 2014.

Senior David Martinez is the scheduled starter behind the plate after being the Govs opening day starter last season. He will again split time at catcher with senior Alex Sala, who was APSU’s opening-day starter in ’16 and ’17.

Sophomore John McDonald is penciled in as the opening day starter at first base where he made three starts as a freshman.

Redshirt senior Garrett Kueber will move to second base to start the 2019 season after playing the bulk of 2018 at shortstop and third base. He led the Govs with a .465 on-base percentage last season and is the only returning Govs hitter with 30-plus walks last season.

Sophomore Bobby Head is slated to start at shortstop after making the final 18 starts of 2018 at that position.

Junior Malcolm Tipler, who was a fall tryout walk-on two seasons ago, begins 2019 as the Govs starter at third base after making 32 starts at the hot corner last season.

The Govs returning position players return 60 percent of the team’s home runs (39 of 60) and 62 percent of its RBI (222 of 358) from last season’s totals.

Toeing The Rubber

Senior Jacques Pucheu, the Preseason OVC Pitcher of the Year, is scheduled to take the mound in the season opener. It will be his first career Game 1 start and 23rd career start overall.

Pucheu will look to follow up a junior campaign that saw him post seven wins and 101 strikeouts in 89.1 innings.

Senior Brett Newberg is the scheduled Game 2 starter. It would be his sixth career start but first since 2017.

Newberg made 29 relief appearances in 2018, his third straight season of 20-plus appearances.

Redshirt senior Josh Rye is penciled in for the Game 3 start. He shared time as the Govs No. 3 last season, making four Game 3 starts in OVC play.

Austin Peay’s pitching staff returns four of its top five performers by ERA: Newberg (3.79), Pucheu (4.03), reliever Harley Gollert (5.91) and Brandon Vial (5.92).

The Govs returning pitchers accounted for 75 percent of the team’s innings pitched (374 of 497) and 69 percent of its strikeouts (302 of 436).

APSU Govs vs. Kentucky Wildcats

Austin Peay and Kentucky have met 14 times prior to this weekend’s season-opening set. UK holds a 12-2 lead in the all-time series but the teams have split the two games played in Clarksville.

The last five meetings in the series have each been decided by three runs or fewer.

APSU’s last win against Kentucky was a 19-8 decision in a 1996 game played in Clarksville. That 1996 Governors team would make the program’s first NCAA Division I Baseball Tournament appearance.

The Wildcats visit to Clarksville will be the first by a Southeastern Conference foe since Tennessee’s 2011 visit.

Austin Peay is 39-127-2 all-time against SEC opponents, including a 16-25 record at The Hand.

The Governors last win against an SEC foe was its 2013 NCAA Tournament victory against Florida in Bloomington, Indiana.


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