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Govs drop OVC opener to Racers

By Cody Bush

APSU Athletics Communications

CLARKSVILLE, Tenn. –  A duel between two pitching staffs did not break in favor of Austin Peay, which dropped a 4-1 decision to Murray State in the Ohio Valley Conference opener for both teams on Joe Maynard Field at Raymond C. Hand Park.

Both team’s pitching staffs had their best stuff on display. Govs starter Harley Gollert struck out seven batters and walked none through his 5.1-inning outing. Murray State’s Trevor McMurray matched that with nine strikeouts and no walks over 6.2 innings. By night’s end, the two pitching staffs would combine to strike out 24 and issued only one intentional walk.

Murray State (8-6, 1-0 OVC) broke up the scoreless game in the third inning. Catcher Tanner Booth singled to start the inning. Two batters later center fielder Jake Slunder hit a two-run home run to left, giving the visitors a 2-0 lead.

The Racers padded their lead in the sixth inning. They loaded the bases with a pair of doubles and an intentional walk. A wild pitch proved enough to allow a run to score, extending the deficit to three runs. However, Govs reliever Drew McIllwain struck out two batters to end the threat.

Austin Peay (5-8, 0-1 OVC) started to chip away at McMurray in the fifth inning. The Govs put two runners on base with two outs in both the fifth and sixth innings, but McMurray escaped without allowing a run.

The Govs got a better opportunity in the seventh, loading the bases with one out. First baseman Ty DeLancey was hit by a pitch then catcher Alex Hay singled with an outfield error allowing the runners to advance to second and third base.

A bit of misfortune struck as right fielder Skyler Luna hit a fly ball to shallow right center, the runners froze as the Racers center fielder made a diving attempt. The ball eluded the defender and the Govs were left with the bases loaded and one out. Third baseman Gino Avros provided the Govs first run on a sacrifice fly.

The Govs could not take further advantage of the opportunity, left fielder TJ Foreman was hit by a pitch to load the bases again and Murray State reliever Connor Holden induced a fly out to deep center field to end the threat.

Holden would not allow a baserunner the rest of the way, retiring seven straight to pick up his first save. McMurray (3-0) would allow his first run of 2020 but scattered five hits over 6.2 innings.

Gollert (0-3) allowed three runs on five hits over 5.1 innings. McIllwain would allow a run in his 3.2 innings of work, striking out four.

Catcher Alex Hay led Austin Peay with a 2-for-4 outing. Luna, Foreman and center fielder Garrett Spain had a base hit each.

Murray State third baseman Bryson Bloomer went 4-for-4 with a solo home run in the eighth and ended the night reaching base safely in 11 consecutive plate appearances. Second baseman Jordan Cozart was 2-for-4.

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