Austin Peay Govs seek to stay atop OVC standings, face surging Colonels
APSU Sports Information
Clarksville, TN – The Austin Peay State University (APSU) baseball team begins the second half of its 2019 regular-season schedule and continues its four-game road stretch when it makes its second foray into Kentucky this season for a three-game Ohio Valley Conference series, Friday-Sunday, at Eastern Kentucky.
Austin Peay Baseball plays three game series at Eastern Kentucky starting Friday. (APSU Sports Information)
The Governors opened the road trip with a rocky start, dropping a Tuesday affair at Lipscomb.
It was APSU’s first loss when leading after eight innings in 2019. However, the offense continued its recent productive ways, providing eight runs – just the second time APSU scored eight or more runs on the road.
Eastern Kentucky began its four-game homestand with a 5-3 victory against Xavier, Wednesday. The Colonels enter the weekend among the OVC’s top three in batting average (3rd, .294), scoring (1st, 7.93 runs per game) and earned-run average (2nd, 4.62).
Fifteen different Governors have started a game in the season’s first 27 games. Only two players have started every game in 2019: center fielder Garrett Spain and utility man Parker Phillips.
Senior catcher David Martinez moved into the No. 3 spot in the batting order against Belmont and promptly went 7-for-12 (.583) to lead the Govs. His .387 batting average is 12th among NCAA catchers (58th overall) and third among all OVC hitters.
Center fielder Garrett Spain has reached base in all 27 games as a Governor. His .337 batting average is second among OVC freshmen but he leads all freshmen in RBI (24) and runs scored (24).
Junior utility man Parker Phillips hit his 40th career home run against Belmont, Sunday, and his nine home runs in 2019 ranks 19th nationally. He also was hit by a pitch for the 46th time in his career at Lipscomb, Tuesday. Phillips is APSU’s career leader in home runs and times hit by pitch.
Sophomore Bobby Head extended his hit streak to nine games with a single at Lipscomb, Tuesday. He has nine RBI and seven runs scored during the streak that has pushed his average up 85 points.
Freshman designated hitter Matt Joslin continued his deft hitting with the bases loaded, converting on two opportunities in Sunday’s series finale against Belmont. He is batting .667 with seven RBI in bases-loaded situations.
Redshirt senior Garrett Kueber has made 14 consecutive starts at shortstop and coincidentally has a hit in 13 of those 14 games. He has batted .288 (17-for-59) during the streak, primarily as the Govs No. 2 hitter.
Freshman Gino Avros has reached base safely in his last eight games, posting seven hits and five walks during the streak. He has scored 15 runs over his last 13 games.
Junior outfielder Malcolm Tipler has reached base safely in 13 consecutive games, dating back to the Tennessee Tech series opener. He has 10 hits and 10 walks during the streak.
Sophomore first baseman John McDonald saw a six-game hit streak end against Murray State, last Wednesday. He was held to one hit – an RBI single in Game 2 – during the Belmont series.
Senior outfielder Aaron Campbell and junior outfielder Tyler Hubbard have both been late defensive substitutes for the Govs during the past three weeks.
Toeing The Rubber
Left-hander Josh Rye will make his fourth straight start in the Friday night series opener. He has posted a 2.81 ERA with 15 strikeouts in 12 innings in his first three Friday starts.
Southpaw Jacques Pucheu was named the OVC Pitcher of the Week, Monday, after holding Belmont to one run over eight innings while striking out 11, last Saturday.
Pucheu, who will start Game 2, is second among OVC pitchers with a 0.96 ERA in league play but is one of three pitchers with three wins after four weeks of league play.
Righty Brandon Vial will get the nod again in Game 3 and is one of those three OVC pitchers with three league wins. He is fifth among OVC pitchers with a 2.45 ERA in league action.
Weekend starters have combined to post a 2.60 ERA this season with 117 strikeouts in 103.2 innings pitched (10.16 K/9) while limiting opponents to a .246 batting average.
APSU Govs vs. Eastern Kentucky Colonels
Eastern Kentucky holds a narrow 55-54 lead in the all-time series, including a 28-23 advantage in Richmond.
The Govs have lost the last two OVC series played in Richmond, last winning an OVC set at EKU in 2013.
EKU has won the last two meetings, including a 5-1 decision that eliminated APSU from the 2018 OVC Baseball Championship.
||Austin Peay Starter
||LHP Josh Rye (3-3, 5.52 ERA)
||LHP Jake Lewis (0-1, 8.64 ERA)
||LHP Jacques Pucheu (4-0, 1.20 ERA)
||RHP Kaven Brown (6-1, 2.47 ERA)
||RHP Brandon Vial (3-2, 2.84 ERA)
||LHP Brennan Kelly (2-3, 5.13 ERA)