OVC regular-season title up for grabs as Austin Peay Govs host Gamecocks
Clarksville, TN – The Austin Peay State University (APSU) baseball teams hosts Jacksonville State in a three game series between co-leaders of the Ohio Valley Conference May 16th-18th, Thursday-Saturday. This matchup will determine who will win the OVC Baseball regular-season title.
This weekend’s series is the first final weekend matchup of the league leaders to decide the championship since 2015.
The series winner will not only win the regular-season title, but also will claim the coveted No. 1 seed in next week’s OVC Baseball Championship in Marion, Illinois.
Austin Peay enters the weekend playing its best baseball of the season, posting a 15-5 mark since its last series loss at Eastern Kentucky, April 5th-6th. The Governors are hitting .345 as a team and averaging 9.7 runs per game in that 20-game stretch and have posted a .981 fielding percentage.
Jacksonville Sate has won 10 of its last 11 games. The Gamecocks have leaned on their pitching staff which has posted a 2.82 ERA during those 11 games. The JSU offense has averaged 7.4 runs per game and is batting .282 over the same period.
During its current four-game win streak, Austin Peay State University is batting .442 (77-174) and averaging an unfathomable 17.0 runs per game. The Govs own a .724 slugging percentage with 19 doubles and nine home runs.
Senior outfielder Aaron Campbell has qualified for the NCAA national rankings, joining with a .380 batting average that is 40th in Division I and second in the OVC. He also owns a league-leading .475 on-base percentage that is 53rd nationally.
Senior catcher David Martinez’ .360 batting average is 10th among NCAA catchers (88th overall) and sixth among all OVC hitters.
Center fielder Garrett Spain reached base in the first 43 games of his collegiate career – the third longest streak in APSU history. His .342 batting average ranks 14th and his 48 RBI ranks 11th among Division I freshmen.
Junior right fielder Parker Phillips hit his 20th home run of 2019 at Tennessee, May 7th, breaking the APSU single-season record he set last season. Currently, his 21 home runs are ranked fifth nationally and he ranks 25th among Division I hitters with an OVC-best 58 RBI.
Phillips is the sixth hitter in OVC history to hit 50 or more home runs. He currently has 52 career homers, third-most in OVC history.
Freshman designated hitter Matt Joslin has been the right man in the right spot in 2019. He is batting .692 with 20 RBI in 14 bases-loaded opportunities this season, including a walk-off grand slam against Southern Illinois, April 16.
Freshman third baseman Gino Avros has a hit in 15 of his last 20 games, batting .346 (28-81) with 24 runs scored. He has boosted his average 90 points thanks to the burst.
Redshirt senior shortstop Garrett Kueber has eight multi-hit outings in his last 13 games, including a five-hit outing against WKU, Tuesday. In those 13 games, he is batting .481 (25-52) with three home runs, 12 RBI and 20 runs scored.
Junior utility man Malcolm Tipler is batting .500 (8-16) with seven RBI over the last four games with three doubles and a home run.
Sophomore first baseman John McDonald has started all four games during the Govs current four-game hot streak. He is batting .375 (6-16) with two doubles and four walks.
Senior catcher Alex Sala has hit a home run in each of his last two official at-bats. He is batting .368 (7-19) with three extra base hits in his last six starts.
Toeing The Rubber
The Govs hold a formidable 1-2 punch on weekends with left-handers Josh Rye and Jacques Pucheu combining to go 11-4 in their 18 OVC starts with a 2.98 ERA. Pucheu is ranked first among OVC starters in OVC-only ERA (2.45) and league victories (6) with Rye ranked 10th in ERA (3.68) and second in wins (5).
Since April’s start, Rye has a 2.14 ERA in six starts with 4-0 record. He has not allowed a run in three of those six outings and recorded 34 strikeouts in 33.2 innings.
Pucheu has swung back and forth over his last eight outings, following an outing with one or fewer earned runs with a multi-earned run outing. He did not allow a run at Eastern Illinois, going five innings in an outing shortened by the Govs prodigious 29-run outburst.
Right-hander Ryan Kouba has made the last two Game 3 starts, winning each game. He has a 2.00 ERA and held opponents to a .181 batting average in his starts.
With its 12 strikeouts against WKU, Tuesday, the Govs pitching staff set a program record for single-season strikeouts. The 2019 staff’s 473 Ks broke the program record of 466 Ks set in 2013 and 2017.
APSU Govs vs. Jacksonville State Gamecocks
Jacksonville State has won the last two meetings in the series, including a 5-1 victory to end Austin Peay’s 2018 campaign at last season’s OVC tournament.
Prior to those last two outings, the Govs won six straight against the Gamecocks, its longest win streak in the series.
JSU owns a 30-27 lead in the series, 11 of those meetings coming in the OVC tournament, quickly making this series one of the league’s best rivalries.
||Austin Peay Starter
||LHP Josh Rye (7-3, 3.76)
||RHP Garrett Farmer (5-2, 2.70)
||LHP Jacques Pucheu (7-3, 2.53)
||RHP Isaiah Magwood (1-0, 4.34)
||RHP Ryan Kouba (4-0, 5.68)
||LHP Dylan Hathcock (1-0, 4.41)