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HomeSportsAPSU travels to Murray State with OVC Tournament berth on the line

APSU travels to Murray State with OVC Tournament berth on the line

APSU BaseballMurray, KY – The Austin Peay State University (APSU) baseball team puts its tourney hopes on the line this weekend as it closes the 2021 regular season with a three-game Ohio Valley Conference series against Murray State, Thursday-Friday, at Johnny Reagan Field.

Austin Peay State University Baseball seeks to secure OVC Tournament spot at Murray State this weekend. (Robert Smith, APSU Sports Information)
Austin Peay State University Baseball seeks to secure OVC Tournament spot at Murray State this weekend. (Robert Smith, APSU Sports Information)

Austin Peay State University enters the final weekend tied for fourth with Jacksonville State, one game ahead of both SIU Edwardsville and Eastern Illinois and two games ahead of Belmont and Tennessee Tech.

The APSU Govs qualify for the four-team OVC tournament with a series win this weekend and if none of the other three OVC series results in a sweep by a team behind them in the standings.

Austin Peay State University put itself in a position to make the tournament thanks to its series victory against Jacksonville State last weekend. Shortstop Bobby Head led the Govs with a program-record 11 hits during the three-game series, batting .786 with four doubles and two home runs.

Meanwhile, pitchers Drew McIllwain, Tucker Weaver and Nick Wellman combined for 7.1 scoreless innings in Game 3 to help secure the series victory.

Murray State has been difficult to beat at home this season, posting a 16-4 record at Johnny Reagan Field, including a 9-3 home mark in OVC play – both league bests. Second baseman Jordan Cozart went 6-for-14 at SIUE last weekend, and notched his league-leading 10th home run in OVC games.

On the mound, reliever Jake Jones appeared in all three games of the SIUE series, striking out nine and walking none over 7.2 innings of scoreless work.

Inside The Series

The Series: 214 previous meetings, MSU leads 110-104
Previously: MSU won the 2020 OVC series, 2-1 (1-4, 12-10, 2-20) at APSU.
Notably: Murray State has won the last two series between the teams, including a 2-1 series victory in the 2019 series played in Murray. Current MSU head coach Dan Skirka is 5-2 against APSU in his first two seasons. Since the start of the 2014 season, MSU holds a 12-11 edge in the all-time series.

Probable Starters

GAME 1 | RHP Luke Brown vs. LHP Sam Burns
Brown has been the Govs No. 1 starter since March 26th against Belmont. In his seven OVC Game 1 starts he is 2-0 with a complete game (at UTM) and a 22:8 strikeout-to-walk ratio over 37.0 innings pitched. The APSU Govs are 6-1 in his OVC Game 1 starts, with the offense providing 9.7 runs of support. Reliever Harley Gollert has been the man to follow Brown on the mound, when needed, and is 3-1 with 33 strikeouts in 26.1 innings over six Game 1 relief outings.

 


 

GAME 2 | TBA vs. RHP Sam Gardner
APSU has used four different hurlers in the No. 2 spot in the nine weeks since the start of OVC play. RHP Sebastian Martinez has taken the reins the past four weekends with 16 strikeouts in 18.2 innings pitched. Austin Peay is 3-7 in Game 2’s since the start of OVC play with the offense providing 5.5 runs of support.

GAME 3 | TBA vs. RHP Quinton Kujawa
Five different Govs also have taken a turn as the Govs No. 3 starter this season. RHP Drew McIllwain has started six of the last seven Game 3s and is 1-1 with 31 strikeouts in 32.1 innings with a 3.34 ERA. In the eight weeks since the start of OVC play, APSU is 5-5 in Game 3 outings with the offense supplying 5.0 runs of support.

First Hacks

Head coach Travis Janssen will manage his 500th career game in Thursday’s series opener. He recorded his 150th Austin Peay State University victory with last Friday’s series-opening victory against Jacksonville State.

Catcher Jack Alexander posted an RBI in each game of the JSU series. He also extended his reached safely streak to 11 games, which started April 30th against Arkansas State.

Third baseman Gino Avros was just 1-for-30 (.033) at the plate through the season’s first 11 games. But his turnaround has been remarkable, batting .333 (52-156) with a .398 on-base percentage since March 14.

Shortstop John Bolton has seen his bat start to warm up with 14 hits (.318 BA) and seven walks (.412 OBP) in his last 14 games. He has four multi-hit games in that span.

Utility man Bobby Head brings an eight-game hit streak into the final regular-season weekend. He is batting .545 (18-for-33) with five doubles and three home runs during the streak, bumping his season batting average 50 points.

Outfielder Skyler Luna has started six consecutive games in right field. He has three hits and three RBI in those starts.

First baseman John McDonald returned to action at designated hitter against SIUE after missing nine games due to an injury. He promptly extended his reached safely streak to 15 games (6 game hit streak) during the JSU series.

Center fielder Garrett Spain was held hitless in back-to-back games on April 17th & 20th, lowering his average to .298. In the 16 games since, he has batted .368 (25-68) with 12 RBI, moving his average up 26 points.

Second baseman Malcolm Tipler saw a 19-game reached safely streak end at Eastern Illinois, May 8th. But he has bounced back with four-straight multi-hit games (.600, 9-for-15), pushing his average up 30 points.

Outfielder Jeremy Wagner has started 11 of the APSU Govs last 12 games and is batting 9-for-37 (.243), including a 2-for-3, two RBI effort in the JSU series opener, May 14th.

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