June 3, 2011

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Regional Scores & Schedules

Austin Peay Trips Tech

By Sean Ryan

CollegeBaseballInsider.com Co-Founder


Five years ago, Austin Peay battled David Price and Vanderbilt tooth and nail on the opening day of the Nashville Regional. The Governors fell 2-1 in 11 innings.


Friday night at the Atlanta Regional, fourth-seeded Austin Peay used a fantastic start from Jack Snodgrass and a late homer from freshman Jordan Hankins to shock top-seeded Georgia Tech 2-1 at Russ Chandler Stadium. 


“This is the biggest win our program’s ever had,” coach Gary McClure said over the phone after the win. “Absolutely. I’d be lying if I didn’t say that.”


Ace Jeremy Dobbs was expected to start against the Yellow Jackets, who now find themselves one loss away from not advancing from the Atlanta Regional for the third straight year. But McClure made a late call to Snodgrass, who entered with a 3-6 record.


“It was just a gut feeling that I had,” he said. “I tried to not do it, I didn’t want to outsmart myself, but I went with my gut.”


Snodgrass didn’t disappoint. The lefty worked seven innings with one earned run, three walks and three strikeouts. McClure said Snodgrass was able to use his mid-to-upper 80s fastball on the outer half and mix in some changes and curves in fastball counts early in the game. When the Yellow Jackets made adjustments, Snodgrass worked inside and tamed Tech.


Tied at 1 in the seventh, Hankins – one of four freshmen in a starting lineup that also included three sophomores – hit just his fourth homer of the season off Matt Grimes, who allowed three hits and two earned runs with eight strikeouts in 6.2 solid innings of relief. Grimes entered for Jackets ace Mark Pope, who left in the second inning with an oblique injury.


Mark Hebert relieved Snodgrass and got two outs in the eighth before hitting a batter. Lefty Zach Toney, the Governors’ third starter, escaped the eighth then struck out the side in the ninth for his second save.


“These guys have just been so professional,” McClure said. “They’ve approached conference games and the tournament in such a professional, business-like way.”


McClure said that he and his staff haven’t talked much about that Vanderbilt loss five years ago to inspire their team. But he admitted his young team is aware that Austin Peay nearly shocked the college baseball world before.


“It’s something that all the kids on this team were talked to about when they were recruited here,” said McClure, who has won 712 games in 24 years at the Clarksville, Tenn., school. “We’re trying to get you here to win a Regional.”


The Governors (34-22) took a major step toward that goal Friday night. They will meet Mississippi State Saturday in the winners’ bracket final, while the Yellow Jackets (40-20) will square off against Southern Miss.


(photo by Craig Jackson)