Clarksville, TN – Earning its way into the postseason on the regular season’s final day, the Austin Peay State University (APSU) baseball team travels to DeLand, Florida, this week for its first appearance in the ASUN Baseball Championship hosted by Stetson University.
The Governors claimed the No. 8 seed in the event and will play in Pool B along with No. 5 seed Stetson, No. 6 seed Jacksonville State, and No. 7 Eastern Kentucky.
Austin Peay State University won its fourth-consecutive ASUN series and climbed into first place at 12-5 in the ASUN with its April 22nd victory at Jacksonville.
However, they lost starting first baseman Harrison Brown in that game, and six days later, starting outfielder Garrett Martin left a game against Florida Gulf Coast for precautionary reasons. The APSU Govs lost their last four series and went 3-10 in ASUN play after April 22nd, but faced the ASUN’s top two teams (FGCU and Lipscomb) and played road series at Central Arkansas and late-surging North Alabama.
Coincidentally, the three teams Austin Peay State University will face in Pool B play are those that they did not meet during ASUN regular-season play. In addition, the meetings against EKU and JSU renew matchups against former conference foes.
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Climbing the Hill
Jacob Kush picked up his fifth win of 2023 on April 14th against Queens but ended the regular season seeking his sixth win. He was 4-3 in ASUN play with 53 strikeouts in 52.2 innings pitched. His 67.2 total innings pitched this season are more than his total over the past three seasons (49.1) and one out shy of his career-high set as a freshman at Northwest Florida in 2019.
Lyle Miller-Green saw his turn in the rotation skipped at North Alabama after starting each of the previous 13 weeks as a member of the weekend rotation and finished 1-4 in ASUN games with 21 strikeouts in 33 innings pitched. Before this season at APSU, he had 11 relief appearances in his first two seasons and did not pitch last year at Oklahoma State.
Jacob Weaver moved into the weekend rotation against Queens on April 16th. In his six ASUN starts, he went 2-1 with a 3.21 ERA while posting 20 strikeouts in 28.0 innings pitched. He also is at a career-high 55 innings pitched after tossing 47.1 innings as a freshman for the Govs last season.
The APSU Govs’ bullpen, which has battled inconsistency down the stretch, closed the season with Paul Rector and Davin Pollard combining for 9.0 innings of scoreless relief in the final two games of the North Alabama series. In ASUN play, APSU’s bullpen is 8-6 with seven saves and has a 5.23 ERA while striking out 150 batters in 139.1 innings pitched.
Austin Peay State University infielder Matt Aribal made three starts at second base in seven days, May 7th-13th. He made the most of his start at Central Arkansas – his first start since April 29th – hitting his first two home runs in a 2-for-4, three-RBI effort.
Outfielder Nathan Barksdale enters the tournament seeking to snap a five-game stretch that has seen him bat .188 (3-16) with a .350 on-base percentage. He batted .338 as a starter in the ASUN with a .455 on-base percentage.
APSU outfielder John Bay closed the regular season with four home runs in his final six games and batted .368 (7-19) with nine RBI. He hit all six home runs this season in ASUN play, and batted .242 in league action.
First baseman Harrison Brown batted a team-best .404 in ASUN play before his injury during the Jacksonville series that caused him to miss the final 17 games of ASUN action.
Utility man Jaden Brown extended his reached-safely streak to 28 games during the North Alabama series. He closed the Lipscomb series with an 11th-inning walk-off double.
Catcher Trevor Conley is batting .323 (10-31) with a double and a home run in his last nine starts. He was 1-for-4 with a sac bunt in the North Alabama series opener. It was his fourth sac hit this season.
Catcher Jacob Curtis started the series finale against Lipscomb on May 14th and was 1-for-3 with a game-tying RBI single in the seventh inning. He has a hit in his last three starts (.400, 4-10, 4 RBI).
Catcher Gus Freeman has a home run in two of his last three games and is batting .357 (10-28) with five RBI in his previous five starts. He hit a three-run home run in the Lipscomb series opener and later walked and scored.
Austin Peay State University shortstop Jon Jon Gazdar, an ASUN All-Academic Team member, enters the tournament with 23 doubles, ranking second in the ASUN and ninth nationally. He has four doubles and a home run in May’s 10 games, including two doubles at nationally-ranked Tennessee.
Infielder Conner Gore leads the Govs with 13 RBI in May thanks to four three-RBI games during the month with four doubles and three home runs. He had three RBI in back-to-back games at Central Arkansas and twice in the Lipscomb series.
Outfielder Clayton Gray, a Third Team All-ASUN Team selection, ended the regular season leading the ASUN with 24 doubles and was fourth among Division I hitters. He is the fifth player in APSU history to hit 20 doubles and steal 20 bases in a season.
Lyle Miller-Green, a Second Team All-ASUN Team honoree, hit his team-leading 16th home run during the North Alabama series and ranks eighth among ASUN home run leaders. He had a hit in each game of the UNA series and reached base five times, scoring twice.
Third baseman Ambren Voitik walked five times during the North Alabama series, posting a team-best .643 on-base percentage while leading the team with a .375 batting average.