Junior right fielder Brandon Rawe went 3-for-4 with three home runs on Sunday afternoon (May 4) at MSU’s Allen Field, and the Morehead State baseball team used a 7-6 victory to post its first series win over Ohio Valley Conference opponent Austin Peay since 2009.
The Eagles, who have won seven of their last eight at home, improve to 25-22 overall, 13-11 in OVC action and 11-7 at Allen Field. The Governors, who began the weekend with nine straight victories in the series, fall to 19-30 overall, 11-13 in league play and 6-14 on the road.
"This was a big weekend for us," Head Coach Mike McGuire said. "We want to win every contest, but taking two of three from a team in last year's NCAA Tournament is an accomplishment. It seemed like we came to the ballpark each day expecting to win, and we did that twice."
MSU continues to destroy its overall victories (16-40) and home wins total (5-9) from a year ago. The Eagles improve to 11-3 in one-run affairs this season and notch their seventh win when trailing after six innings. The three-game weekend series was also decided by just one run.
Rawe became the first Eagle to launch three roundtrippers in a game since April 17, 2010. He belted a solo homer in the first, two-run dinger in the third and game-winning solo shot in the eighth. The three-hole hitter is now batting .417 on the year with 10 long balls and 39 RBI.
Morehead State junior catcher Chris Robinson posted three hits, while first baseman Kane Sweeney, senior designated hitter Bobby Burns and junior shortstop Robby Spencer collected two apiece. The Eagles registered 15 base knocks in the contest, including eight for extra bases.
"Our entire team really swung the bats well today," McGuire said. "Brandon (Rawe) has been our most consistent performer this year, and he had a terrific game. I'm very pleased with what Brandon gave us, but not surprised because I know how good he is at the plate."
Austin Peay jumped out to a 5-1 lead with two runs in the first and three more in the second. The Governors held a 6-5 upper hand at stretch time, but MSU rallied for two late runs on Spencer's seventh-inning rocket off the third baseman and Rawe's eighth-inning game winner.
Senior southpaw Noah Smallwood, sophomore right-hander Tyler Keele and sophomore right-hander Craig Pearcy combined to allow just one run and five hits in 7.2 innings out of the Morehead State bullpen. The Eagle relievers struck out 13 of the 32 batters they faced.
"Our offense performed well, but I thought today's difference was our bullpen," McGuire said. "Noah (Smallwood), Tyler (Keele) and Craig (Pearcy) all pitched very well for us. Our pitching depth is one of the reasons why I think we can make a run in the OVC Tournament."
Pearcy, who tossed the eighth and ninth frames, improved to 4-2 with the win. Senior right-hander Ryan Quick, who yielded Rawe's final long ball on his first pitch, dropped to 2-6 with the loss.
The teams combined to use 12 pitchers in the series finale. The three-game set also saw a total of 37 pitching appearances as nearly every eligible hurler on both sides worked off the mound.
MSU suffered three-game sweeps at the hands of APSU in 2011, 2012 and 2013. The Eagles had not taken a series from the Governors since a doubleheader sweep at home on April 11, 2009.
Morehead State returns to action on Friday when it opens a three-game league series at Eastern Illinois. The Eagles have just seven regular-season contests left, including six in OVC play. MSU's final home series is set for May 15-17 when Jacksonville State visits.
"It was a good weekend for us," McGuire added. "We had good weather, two terrific crowds, several promotions and lots of recruits on campus. It was an exciting atmosphere for our young men to play in. I'm encouraged because we're starting to change the culture here."