ST. LOUIS – Austin Peay scored twice in the bottom of the seventh inning and held off a late South Dakota State threat for a 4-2 season-opening victory in college baseball action Friday afternoon at Billiken Sports Center.
After Jackrabbit third baseman Newt Johnson drove in his second run of the day with a solo home run in the top of the seventh inning, Austin Peay put together the decisive rally in the home half of the frame.
Garrett Kueber drew a leadoff walk against SDSU reliever Austin Suhr, advanced to second on a sacrifice bunt, took third on a fly ball and scored the go-ahead run on a wild pitch. Andrew Flaherty provided an insurance run later in the inning with an RBI single that plated Parker Phillips.
SDSU threatened with two outs in the top of the ninth. Back-to-back singles by Skyler Wenninger and Landon Badger put runners at the corners, but the Governors’ Ross Walker came on in relief and induced a foul popout to end the game.
The Jackrabbits scored first, taking advantage of Austin Peay’s lone error of the game in the top of the first. Tony Kjolsing reached on an infield single, took second on an error and moved to third on a passed ball before scoring on a sacrifice fly by Johnson.
Austin Peay grabbed the lead in the bottom of the second on a two-run double by Kueber off SDSU starter Brady Stover. It was the only hit Stover allowed in three innings, but the sophomore southpaw walked five and hit two batters.
Austin Suhr, who made his Jackrabbit debut, pitched three scoreless innings before allowing the go-ahead runs in the seventh. He walked three and fanned one. Tyler Olmstead retired all four batters he faced to finish on the mound for SDSU, striking out two.
Badger was 3-for-4 to lead SDSU’s seven-hit effort. Austin Peay’s four hits were scattered among four different hitters.
Austin Peay starter Michael Costanzo struck out seven and walked only one over five innings, but did not factor into the decision. Brett Newberg earned the victory after giving up one run with three strikeouts in 3 2/3 innings of work.
Notes: SDSU dropped to 4-10 in season openers during the Division I era. ... Austin Peay leads the all-time series 3-1. ... Johnson’s home run was the ninth of his career. ... Both of Badger’s career three-hit games have come in season openers; he was 3-for-4 in a win over Northern Illinois last season. ... Nick Smith drew a first-inning walk to reach base safely for the 17th consecutive game dating back to last season. ... Kjolsing has reached base safely in 15 straight games.
South Dakota State takes on Illinois at 11 a.m. and Austin Peay at 3 p.m. today. The roadtrip concludes with a game against the Fighting Illini on Sunday at 11 a.m.
AUSTIN PEAY 4, SOUTH DAKOTA STATE 2
SDSU 100 000 100 – 2 7 1
Austin Peay 020 000 20x – 4 4 1
Brady Stover, Austin Suhr (4), Tyler Olmstead (7) and Kolton Michalski; Michael Costanzo, Brett Newberg (6), Ross Walker (9) and David Martinez. W – Newberg (1-0). L – Suhr (0-1). Sv – Walker (1). 2B: AP, Garrett Kueber. HR: SDSU, Newt Johnson.
Photo from www.gojacks.com.