BOWLING GREEN, Ky. — Looking to break a midweek slide, WKU Baseball travels
southwest to take on Austin Peay for a Tuesday evening showdown at Raymond C. Hand
Park. The game kicks off the Hilltoppers’ May schedule, and will begin with first
pitch at 6 p.m. in Clarksville, Tenn.
WKU has dropped three consecutive midweek games dating back to the team’s last win
on March 27, a 13-9 victory at Eastern Kentucky. Since then, the Hilltoppers were
edged on the road by No. 15 Vanderbilt (3-2) and Louisville (5-4), while also
falling to Tennessee Tech (10-1) at home.
WKU boasts a 97-59-1 all-time series advantage against the Governors, including a
47-34 mark in Clarksville. The 97 wins and 157 total games are second-most against
any opponent in Hilltopper history, with 126 wins and 233 total games against Middle
Tennessee being the most.
This is the teams’ only meeting in 2018 after WKU and Austin Peay split a
home-and-home last year. The Governors won 7-3 in Bowling Green on April 19, then
the Hilltoppers clinched a 22-17 victory on the road on April 25.
In the April 25 game – which was the same day WKU Athletics announced the switch to
Nike as the apparel and shoe provider – the Hilltoppers became the fourth team in
Division I to hit eight homeruns in a game in 2017.
WKU jumped out to a 7-0 lead in the top of the first after a Kaleb Duckworth grand
slam, Kevin Lambert two-run homerun and Wyatt Featherston solo shot. But back came
the Governors to tie it up at 7-7 after just one frame.
The Hilltoppers fell behind 16-11 after four innings, but then scored 11 of the
game’s final 12 runs to take home the 22-17 victory. Reliever Jackson Sowell
finished the final three innings, scoreless, with a career-high seven strikeouts to
earn the win.
Austin Peay enters the matchup at 25-19 overall, including 14-6 in home games and
15-9 in the Ohio Valley Conference. The Governors sit at 108 in the RPI while the
Hilltoppers sit at 179, in-between Marshall and Middle Tennessee.
In terms of common opponents, Austin Peay lost 19-6 at Vanderbilt on Feb. 27 and was
swept in a season home-and-home set against the Blue Raiders, with scores of 9-0 and
10-4. The Governors were swept in a three-game set at Tennessee Tech, while winning
2-of-3 against Eastern Kentucky and 2-of-3 at Belmont.
Leadoff hitting second baseman Garrett Giovannelli leads Austin Peay with a
.371/.449/.573 slash line, starting 42-of-44 for the club. The senior has a
team-high 16 stolen bases, 48 runs scored and 66 hits, including 19 doubles. First
baseman Parker Phillips has hit a club-best 15 homeruns, leading to a .715 slugging
percentage, both of which rank eighth in the nation.
As a team, the Governors score 7.5 runs per game – which ranks ninth in the country
– but also give up 7.7 runs per game as a pitching staff. Their projected starter,
lefty Josh Rye, has an 11.49 ERA in 31.1 innings. WKU’s pitcher remains TBA at this