Baseball swings for the fences in rivalry game


Graduate outfielder Brennan McCullough makes the last catch in the fifth inning. McCullough recorded three hits and a home run against the Austin Peay Governors on Tuesday, March 28. Photo by Rebeca Mertins Chiodini/The News.

Jakob Milani, Sports Editor

The bats were hot in Clarksville, Tennessee, as the Murray State baseball team defeated the Austin Peay Governors 12-6 on Tuesday, March 28.

The teams combined for 24 hits and seven walks across 74 at-bats in the game. Graduate outfielder Brennan McCullough led the Racers at the plate, going 3-4 in the game with a walk and a two-run home run.

After a scoreless start from the Racers, the Governors jumped out to a lead in the bottom of the first inning. Sophomore infielder Jon Jon Gazdar grounded into double play, but it was enough to allow junior outfielder Clayton Gray to score.

Across the next three innings, the Governors scored three more runs, with two of those runs coming off doubles from Gazdar and sophomore outfielder Nathan Barksdale. After the fourth inning, the Governors led the Racers 4-0.

The Racers got on the board in the top of the fifth inning with a two-run home run from junior infielder Logan Bland. In the top of the sixth inning, McCullough tied up the game  with a two-run homer of his own, making it 4-4 heading into the bottom of the sixth.

The Governors took back the lead with a run from sophomore catcher Trevor Conley, as he scored off a throwing error by the Racers. As the game headed to the final three frames, Austin Peay led 5-4.

The seventh and eighth innings were quiet for both teams, as only one person got on base from a walk by Austin Peay.

When the ninth inning rolled around, it was do or die for the Racers, who were still down a run.

After a double from McCullough and a single from sophomore infielder Carson Garner, junior infielder Drew Vogel stepped up to the plate and hammered a three-run homer down the left field line to put the Racers up 7-4. 

Two batters later, junior catcher Ethan Krizen singled down the right field line, which set up another two-run home run from Bland to extend the Racers’ lead.

After a double from senior outfielder Seth Gardner, and a fielding error that allowed junior infielder Jacob Pennington to reach first base, the Governors were forced to switch pitchers.

Sophomore outfielder Dustin Mercer was the first to face the new pitcher, and he quickly put in work with a double to bring Gardner around third base to score.

After a walk from McCullough, Garner stepped up and doubled into left field to bring in Mercer and freshman utility player Gunnar Bringham, who pinch ran for Pennington. 

When the dust settled and the top of the ninth inning came to its eventual end, the Racers were on top 12-5.

In the bottom of the ninth, the Governors were down to their last out when senior utility player Garrett Martin stepped up. After taking a first-pitch ball, he smashed a home run to give the Governors a bit of hope.

That hope was swiftly crushed, as Gazdar grounded out, giving the Racers a 12-6 win on the road.

Murray State totaled 15 hits in the game. McCullough led the way with three hits, while five other Racers each had two hits, and another two Racers had one hit. Bland led the Racers in RBIs with four, followed by Vogel with three. Despite the strong bats, the Racers struck out 11 times as a team.

Austin Peay had nine hits as a team. Conley and Martin led the team with two hits each. The Governors struck out just four times in the contest and drew five walks but left seven runners on base across the nine innings.

Murray State improves to 12-13 on the season, but the team’s 1-2 conference record stays. Conference play resumes for the Racers on Friday, March 31, as they travel to take on Valparaiso in a three-game series.

They return home on Tuesday, April 4, for a head-to-head game against SEMO in a nonconference matchup.


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