Clarksville, TN – Austin Peay State University (APSU) baseball opens its home Ohio Valley Conference slate when it hosts preseason favorite Southeast Missouri in a three-game series, Friday-Saturday, on Joe Maynard Field at Raymond C. Hand Park.
The set begins with a Friday opener at 6:00pm before the Govs and Redhawks play on Saturday and Sunday at 1:00pm to conclude the series.
Southeast Missouri started a four-game road trip with a 4-1 win at Saint Louis, Tuesday. The Redhawks opened OVC action by sweeping SIU Edwardsville last weekend, holding the Cougars to four runs in the three games. SEMO enters this weekend ranked No. 28 in the NCAA’s RPI.
Catcher Jack Alexander highlights the Austin Peay State University lineup, earning a mention in D1Baseball.com’s Top 30 Catchers list, Tuesday. He is ranked No. 3 among OVC hitters in batting average (.409), one of four APSU hitters ranked among the OVC Top 20 in batting average near the halfway mark. Alexander (14 doubles) and right fielder Gino Avros (13) are ranked 1-2 on the OVC’s doubles list, with Alexander also leading all Division I hitters in doubles.
Center fielder Brett Graber and shortstop Tyler Wilber pace the Southeast Missouri offense with Graber batting .342 to rank 11th among OVC hitters while Wilber’s .322 is ranked 18th. Wilber also leads the OVC with 36 RBI and is third in the league with eight home runs.
Get To The Hand Early
Austin Peay State University will hold public ribbon-cuttings for the Downey Baseball Operations Center & Clubhouse and the Shawn Kelley K Club during ceremonies at 4:00pm, Friday. Austin Peay State University then will recognize Doug Downey and Shawn Kelley during ceremonial first pitches thrown prior to the start of Friday’s series opener.
Prior to the start of Saturday’s baseball game against Southeast Missouri, Austin Peay State University will hold a ceremony to retire the jerseys of A.J. Ellis, Shawn Kelley, and Nate Manning on Joe Maynard Field at Raymond C. Hand Park with each of the honorees throwing ceremonial first pitches prior to the start of Saturday’s game.
Finally, in recognition of Military Appreciation Weekend at The Hand, Austin Peay State University will have a special ceremonial first pitch prior to Sunday’s game.
New To The Hand
Austin Peay State University’s athletics department made two major changes to improve the fan experience this spring at Raymond C. Hand Park. First, new netting was installed that extends from dugout to dugout and is 30 feet high to protect the seating area and hillsides behind both dugouts. Fans are reminded foul balls may still enter the seating area but the new netting should provide a safer experience.
In addition, new chairback seating was installed behind home plate. The new reserved seating area provides additional seating space for fans along with cup holders for their ice-cold Coca-Cola products.
Season and single-game tickets are still available for the 31-game home slate. Fans are encouraged to purchase their tickets in advance by visiting LetsGoPeay.com/BuyTickets or by calling the APSU Athletics Ticket Office at 931.221.PEAY (7329). The ticket window at Raymond C. Hand Park opens one hour prior to first pitch each day.
Follow The Govs
This weekend’s series is available on ESPN+ with Van Stokes providing the play-by-play and Alex Gould providing in-game analysis. Fans wishing to follow along more discreetly may visit PeayStats.com for live scoring through the series or get important game updates on Twitter by following @GovsBSB.
On The Mound
GAME 1 | RHP Tyler Delong vs. RHP Jason Rackers
After making his first start for APSU in the Belmont series opener, Delong gets the nod to open the Southeast Missouri series. He tied his season-best with 3.0 innings pitched against the Bruins. Rackers, a Tennessee transfer, notched his second-straight quality start against SIUE with one run allowed over 6.0 innings in a no decision.
GAME 2 | LHP Harley Gollert vs. LHP Noah Niznik
Gollert made his fourth start (out of seven in 2022) of six-plus innings at Belmont last weekend. He is second among OVC pitchers with 39 strikeouts in just 36 innings pitched. Niznik held SIUE to one run over 4.2 innings last week and has pitched beyond the fifth inning just once this season (vs. Bellarmine).
GAME 3 | TBA vs. RHP Tommy Windt
Austin Peay has used four different pitchers in the No. 3 spot this season with that group combining for a 13.26 ERA in 19 innings (3.1 innings pitched per start). Windt moved in the No. 3 spot in the SEMO rotation against Valparaiso and had his best start of 2022 last week against SIUE, surrendering just two runs over 3.2 innings while striking out six.
Through The Lineup
Austin Peay State University catcher Jack Alexander extended his hit streak to 11 games and his reached-safely streak to 22 games at Evansville. He is batting .450 (18-40) during the hit streak with 7 doubles and 11 RBI.
First baseman John McDonald’s reached-safely streak stands at 35 games (14 in 2022) – the 5th longest streak at APSU since 1996, tying Lance Wampler’s 35-game stretch (2000). Next up is Ryan Kane’s 40-game reached safely streak during the 2006 season.
With McDonald battling an injury suffered on March 9th, Ty DeLancey has started the last 12 games at first base. He is batting .306 (15-for-49) with 8 RBI in 13 games since taking over at first base, including a current 10-game reached-safely streak.
Second baseman Jonah Beamon finished March batting .264 with a home run and 8 RBI – helping boost his batting average 65 points.
Shortstop John Bolton broke a four-game hitless streak with back-to-back two-hit outings to open the Belmont series. He is batting .333 (5-15) over his last 4 games with 2 doubles.
Third baseman Michael Robinson went 2-for-4 in the Belmont series opener and – after a pair of hitless outings against the Bruins – went 2-for-5 with a double and RBI at Evansville, Tuesday.
TJ Foreman returned to the starting lineup at Belmont and has made four consecutive starts in center field for Skyler Luna. He is batting .285 (4-14) with 5 walks (.474 OBP) in those starts while batting second in the APSU Govs order.
Center fielder Skyler Luna has missed the last four games due to a non-COVID illness. He went 3-for-9 with a walk, 2 stolen bases, and 2 RBI during the Saint Louis series.
Gino Avros brings a 6-game hit streak into the weekend and is batting .310 (9-29) with 5 RBI during the stretch. He provided the game-winning base hit – an eighth-inning two-run double – in Game 2 of the Belmont series.
Jeremy Wagner extended his hit streak to four games with a hit in each of the first two games at Belmont. The streak ended Sunday with an 0-for-2 outing, but he batted .385 (5-13) during the streak.
Harrison Brown started in right field at Evansville after batting .364 (4-11) with a double and home run during the Belmont series. He was held without a hit by the Purple Aces but walked twice.