Jackson, TN – The Austin Peay State University baseball team makes its fifth consecutive Ohio Valley Conference baseball championship when it faces regular-season champion Southeast Missouri in a 2:00pm, Thursday, May 27th tournament opener in The Ballpark at Jackson.
The Governors and Redhawks are one-half of the four-team field. Morehead State, the No. 3 seed, faces No. 2 seed Murray State in the other half of the bracket.
The first-round winners meet in an 11:00am, Friday contest. The first-round losers face off in a 3:00pm, Friday elimination game.
Austin Peay State University reached the postseason thanks to winning four of their final five OVC series, including key series victories against Jacksonville State and Murray State in the final two weekends. This season, Austin Peay State University is 4-5 against the three other teams in the 2021 tournament field, dropping series to both Southeast Missouri and Morehead State in addition to the win against Murray State.
The Governors boast the OVC’s second-ranked offensive group entering postseason play, their .291 team batting average in league play trailing only Morehead State (.309). Second baseman Malcolm Tipler led Austin Peay with a .368 batting average in league play that was fifth among league hitters. Utility man Bobby Head batted .355 in OVC action, ranking 10th in the league.
On the mound, APSU’s pitchers are ranked third among the tournament’s four teams in ERA (5.59) behind Southeast Missouri (4.50) and Murray State (5.48). Drew McIllwain, the Govs regular Game 3 starter, ranked sixth among league pitchers with a 3.65 ERA. Luke Brown and Harley Gollert, who regularly combine to piggyback Game 1s, each have four OVC wins to their credit.
Inside The Series
The Series: 47-43 in 27 previous appearances with six titles.
Previously: 2-2 as the No. 2 seed in the 2019 tournament
Notably: In OVC Tournament play, APSU has a winning record against Murray State (5-3) and losing records against Southeast Missouri (4-9) and Morehead State (3-4). Head Coach Travis Janssen is 6-8 in four tournament appearances with the Govs; he led the Govs to their fifth-straight tournament appearance this season.
GAME 1 | RHP Luke Brown
Brown has been the APSU Govs No. 1 starter since March 26 against Belmont. In his eight OVC Game 1 starts he is 3-0 with a complete game (at UTM) and a 31:9 strikeout-to-walk ratio over 45.0 innings pitched. The Govs are 7-1 in his OVC Game 1 starts, with the offense providing 9.4 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 27.1 innings over six Game 1 relief outings.
GAME 2 | Govs Starter TBA
The APSU Govs used four different hurlers in the No. 2 spot during OVC play. RHP Sebastian Martinez has taken the reins the past four weekends and performed admirably with 19 strikeouts in 24.2 innings pitched. Austin Peay is 4-7 in Game 2’s since the start of OVC play with the offense providing 5.8 runs of support.
GAME 3 | Govs Starter TBA
Five different Govs also have taken a turn as the Govs No. 3 starter this season. RHP Drew McIllwain has started seven of the last eight Game 3s and is 1-2 with 33 strikeouts in 36.1 innings with a 3.72 ERA. In OVC play, APSU is 5-6 in Game 3 outings with the offense supplying 4.8 runs of support.
Head coach Travis Janssen will reach his third career milestone this season in the Govs tournament-opening game against Southeast Missouri – his 300th game as APSU head coach. He managed his 500th career game as a head coach in the Govs series-opening victory against Murray State, May 2nd. He recorded his 150th Austin Peay State University victory with a May 14th series-opening victory against Jacksonville State.
Catcher Jack Alexander closed the regular season with a five-game hit streak, batting .444 (8-18) with two home runs, two doubles, and six RBI. He has batted .357 in May’s 13 games with five doubles, three home runs and 10 RBI.
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 .325 (55-169) with a .414 on-base percentage in the last 42 games.
Shortstop John Bolton has started both middle infield positions this season, taking over at shortstop on April 13th. In his 27 starts at shortstop, he has 19 hits and 12 runs scored.
TJ Foreman returned to the lineup at Murray State following a 15-day hiatus. He promptly went 5-for-12 (.417) with six RBI during the series. His three-run triple in the fifth-inning of Game 2 helped secure the APSU Govs tournament berth.
Utility man Bobby Head is batting .370 (20-54) with six doubles, four home runs, and 11 runs scored in 13 May contests. He set a program record with 11 hits in a three-game series against Jacksonville State, May 14-15.
Outfielder Skyler Luna has started nine consecutive games in right field. He has three hits with a double, home run, and three RBI in those starts.
First baseman John McDonald returned to action at designated hitter against Jacksonville State, May 14th, after missing nine games due to an injury. He’s extended his reached safely streak to 18 games dating back to April 6.
Center fielder Garrett Spain was held hitless in back-to-back games on April 17th & 20th, lowering his average to .298. In the 19 games since, he has batted .359 (28-78) with 14 RBI, moving his average up 25 points.
Second baseman Malcolm Tipler has batted .396 (21-53) during May with six walks for a .467 on-base percentage. He has 12 runs scored and eight RBI during the month.
Outfielder Jeremy Wagner started nine of the month’s 13 games. He has six hits with four walks during the month.