Clarksville, TN – Winners of their last two Ohio Valley Conference series, the Austin Peay State University (APSU) baseball team looks to keep rolling when first-place Eastern Illinois visits Joe Maynard Field at Raymond C. Hand Park for a three-game series, Thursday-Saturday.
Due to the upcoming Easter holiday, the series shifts one day and begins with a Thursday 6:00pm outing. The Govs and Panthers return to the field on Friday for a 6:00pm affair before closing the set on Saturday at 1:00pm.
This weekend’s series also pits two of the league’s top hitters against each other. Eastern Illinois’ Ryan Ignoffo leads the league with a .431 batting average with 13 doubles (3rd), seven home runs (6th), and 30 RBI (6th). Meanwhile, Austin Peay’s Jack Alexander is batting .408 (2nd), with 15 doubles (2nd), seven home runs (6th), and 34 RBI (3rd).
After three of the eight OVC weekends, the race atop the OVC standings remains close. Eastern Illinois is in first place with its .833 win percentage (5-1) but is a half-game behind Belmont and Southeast Missouri who have 7-2 records (.778 win percentage). Austin Peay is fourth at 6-3, one game behind the Bruins and Redhawks.
This weekend is Youth Weekend at The Hand. Youth 12 and under will receive free admission to this week’s games against Eastern Illinois. In addition, Austin Peay State University will have food trucks and an inflatable bounce house on-site during Saturday’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.
Single-game tickets are still available for the remaining 13 games on the 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 APSU Govs
This weekend’s series is available on ESPN+ with Alex Gould providing the play-by-play. 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 (2-1, 5.20 ERA) vs. LHP Trevor Nicholson (4-0, 1.74 ERA)
Delong, the OVC co-Pitcher of the Week, looks to build on a start that saw him strikeout nine batters in 6.0 inning en route to his first win as a starter. He owns a 1-1 record and 6.58 ERA with 16 strikeouts in 13.2 innings as a starter. Nicholson won each of his four starts in March but has been held to a pair of no decisions in April despite posting a 3.27 ERA and striking out 12 in 11 innings. He is the OVC’s strikeout leader (64) and second in ERA (1.74).
GAME 2 | LHP Harley Gollert (2-3, 5.25 ERA) vs. RHP Cameron Doherty (4-3, 3.89 ERA)
Gollert’s win at UT Martin, April 9th, was his first win since Feb. 25 against Bowling Green. He is second in the OVC strikeout race with 49 Ks in 48 innings this season. A Preseason All-OVC pick, Doherty is looking to bounce back from a loss against SIUE that saw him surrender six runs, but only one earned, in two innings. Entering the weekend seventh in the OVC ERA battle (3.89), he is one of seven OVC pitchers with four or more wins this season.
GAME 3 | TBA vs. RHP Blake Malatestinic (3-1, 5.31 ERA)
APSU has used four different pitchers in the No. 3 spot this season, but right-hander Drew McIllwain has made all three Game 3 OVC starts for the Govs. He notched his first win at UT Martin, and is 1-2 with a 5.52 ERA that is best among starters in OVC play. Malatestinic returns after missing 2021 due to injury and is looking to bounce back from a rough outing against SIUE that saw him allow nine runs in 4.2 innings for his third no decision in his last four outings.
Through The Lineup
Austin Peay State University catcher Jack Alexander extended his reached-safely streak to 29 games with his home run at Vanderbilt, Tuesday. He leads the team with 15 multi-hit outings in 2022 and also has a team-leading 11 multi-RBI games (no other Gov has more than 5 multi-RBI games).
John McDonald returned to the lineup for the first time in 23 games, Saturday, as the designated hitter and provided a game-winning grand slam in his return. He also extended his reached-safely streak to 39 games (18 in 2022) – the 5th longest streak at APSU since 1996. Next up is Ryan Kane’s 40-game reached safely streak during the 2006 season.
When McDonald suffered his injury on March 9th, Ty DeLancey took over at first base and has started the last 19 games. He is batting .284 (21-for-74) with 12 RBI since taking over at first base.
APSU second baseman Jonah Beamon recorded a base hit in all 3 games of the UT Martin series, his longest hit streak of the season. He has a hit in 4 of his last 5 games (.300, 6-20) with a home run and 3 RBI.
Shortstop John Bolton has a hit in 8 of the 11 games since the start of OVC play, March 25, including 4 multi-hit outings. He is batting .307 (12-39) with 5 doubles, and 4 RBI over those 11 games.
Center fielder Nathan Barksdale has a hit in back-to-back games, notching his first collegiate hit in Game 2 of the UTM series. He followed that with his first collegiate home run in the finale, the 3-run blast proving to be the difference in the game.
Left fielder Gino Avros saw an 8-game hit streak stopped in the Southeast Missouri series finale but bounced back with a RBI double for the Govs first run at Vanderbilt, Tuesday. He is batting .333 (19-57) in 13 games since March 19 with 10 RBI and 6 doubles – taking the team lead in doubles (16).
Harrison Brown finished the UTM series with back-to-back 3-hit games, days after his first career multi-homer game at Vanderbilt (April 5th). Since joining the starting lineup on March 25th he is batting .357 (15-42) with 2 home runs, and 4 RBI.