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The Murray State News

The Murray State News

The Murray State News

Baseball finishes historic regular season, secures OVC Tournament appearance

Redshirt junior first baseman Trey Woosley hits a home run in the second game against Austin Peay. (Photo courtesy of Racer Athletics)

Simon Elfrink


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Despite only taking one of the three games against Austin Peay State University at Reagan Field on Thursday, May 20-Friday, May 21, the Murray State baseball team finished the 2021 slate by securing the No. 2 seed in the OVC Tournament. 

The Racers finished the season with a historic 30-23 overall record and a 17-12 record in conference play. The team is only the sixth in program history to establish a 30-win season and the only team in the conference to win 30 or more games this season. 

Game One

The Racers had some trouble scoring runs in game one, only tallying three on the scoreboard thanks to RBIs from senior left fielder Ryan Perkins, redshirt junior catcher Alex Crump and redshirt junior DH Brennan McCullough, all of which came in the first inning. Meanwhile, the Governors strung tally marks across the scoreboard in the first, second and fourth innings before a game-changing sixth inning. 

Sophomore left-hander Shane Burns set himself up for trouble after he walked the first two batters of the inning. Four singles later, the Governors managed to manufacture four runs. The scoreboard remained untouched for the rest of the inning, giving Austing Peay the 7-3 win. 

“Austin Peay’s pretty hot,” Head Coach Dan Skirka said. “It came right down to it. We couldn’t make the pitch when we needed to pitch and they got the hit with guys on base. Then on the other side, we couldn’t do that offensively.”

Game Two

The second game of the series featured another explosive inning for Austin Peay. Murray State led 3-2 going into the top of the fifth inning but a home run from redshirt sophomore infielder Gino Avros tied the game 3-3 a double and three straight walks brought in one run and a bases-clearing triple from redshirt junior outfielder TJ Forman gave the Governors a 7-3 lead. 

The Governors tacked on a pair of runs later on in the game, but the Racers never found the same luck in the batters’ boxes. Austin Peay won by a score of 9-3 in game two of the series. 

“We were a pitch away from getting out of those innings,” Skirka said. “Then they hit a base-clearing [triple], or a three-run home run. We were [a pitch away] from minimizing all that damage.”

Despite the losses in game two, Skirka said he has 100% confidence in his pitching staff to pull it back together in the OVC Tournament. 

“That’s the thing about baseball: we gotta be clicking on all cylinders,” Skirka said. “If our pitches are making the pitches but our defense isn’t good then we aren’t going to win. They’ve done everything we’ve asked and I’m really excited to see them looking forward.”

Game Three

Murray State was finally able to salvage a game to get to the 30-win threshold. Redshirt junior right-hander Quinton Kujawa got the start on the hill and went 4.1 innings on the mound. Kujawa allowed two runs, both of which were earned, on two hits. He earned the win, pushing his record this season to 3-0. 

The Racers found some fortune with the bats in game three, putting up eight runs on 14 hits. Perkins went 3-5 with a home run while McCullough also put together a multi-hit performance with a pair of hits and an RBI. Redshirt junior first baseman Trey Woosley went 2-4 and redshirt sophomore outfielder Seth Gardner went 3-3 with an RBI. Senior outfielder Brock Anderson went 1-3 at the plate by hitting his 17th home run of the season. 

After reaching 30 wins and putting together the first winning season for Murray State baseball since 2009, Coach Skirka said he was proud of his players. In terms of measuring success this postseason, Skirka has been asking himself several questions to determine whether or not the Racers did what they came to do this spring. 

“We were able to reach our potential? Were we close to being as good as we could be? Like I said, we played for a [regular season] championship in the last week, but I think so,” Skirka said. “A couple plays happen here or there and we’re either tied or we win that thing over SEMO.”

Going into the postseason with the game three win, the Racers are seeded just behind SEMO, who just secured the OVC Regular Season Championship with a who secured the OVC Regular Season Championship after splitting a series with UT Martin. Skirka said he wished his team could have taken the game or two they would have needed to win that title, but having such a good position for the OVC Tournament is something he’s excited about. 

“Pleased with the 30 wins, pleased with the two seed and then anything can happen in the tournament,” Skirka said. “We could win the thing and not lose a game or we could go two and out so it’s just a matter of making plays and getting hot.” 

The Racers will kick off the OVC Tournament against Morehead State on Thursday, May 27, at 6 p.m. in Jackson, Tennessee.

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