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May 31, 2013
BLOOMINGTON, Ind.- His efforts proved fruitless. Left fielder Harrison Bader retreated and scaled the wall in vain as he watched the ball clear the fence. Austin Peay junior designated hitter Michael Davis hit a three-run home run to left field to complete the Governors' eighth inning rally. APSU won 4-3 Friday afternoon at Bart Kaufman Field.
Trailing 3-1 against sophomore relief pitcher Ryan Harris to begin the bottom of the eighth, APSU hitters were not squaring up on his pitches. Governors' first baseman Craig Massoni deposited a bloop single into shallow right field, just out of the reach of sophomore second baseman Casey Turgeon, who made a diving attempt with his back to the infield.
The next hitter, APSU shortstop Reed Harper, lined an infield single off Harris' shoe. Governors' left fielder Cody Hudson reached on a fielder's choice. Davis dispatched a 2-1 pitch to put UF in a deficit that proved irretrievable against APSU closer Tyler Rogers earned his NCAA-best 22nd save of 2013.
Governors' relief pitcher Kacy Kemmer, who notched his sixth win, said the bullpen exploded when Davis's home run left the yard.
Davis was not immediately certain he'd homered.
"When I hit it, I didn't think it was going out," he said. "Then I just kind of saw it get up in that wind and then I kind of knew it was (gone)."
The Gators took the lead in the sixth in a similar fashion.
One swing by sophomore right fielder Justin Shafer gave the Gators a 3-1 lead in support of starting pitcher Jonathon Crawford. Shafer ruined Zach Hall's start, as the APSU left-hander scattered three hits through 5 1/3 innings. The two consecutive walks he issued preceding the Lake Wales native's third at-bat cost him. Shafer had not driven in a run in his last nine games. He eradicated that drought against Governors' relief pitcher Lee Ridenhour, pulling a three-run home run to left field. The shot cleared the Gators' bullpen, about 360 feet away from home plate.
UF Coach Kevin O'Sullivan was complimentary of Hall's outing.
"I think both starting pitchers did an outstanding job," O'Sullivan said. "It was a very well played game on both sides. It just came down to one swing and one pitch. This time of year, that's what tends to happen. (I'm) proud of the way our guys battled today. Austin Peay just played a little bit better. That's the bottom line."
Davis overcame his three-strikeout day against Crawford. Davis said the Okeechobee native had a cutter he could not decipher. The Governors' designated hitter took advantage his absence in the eighth.
"It's not good," Crawford said simply about watching the lead vanish. "Harris left a ball over the plate and he took advantage of it."
The bottom line was that Harris got behind in the count, 2-1, O'Sullivan said. APSU head coach Gary McClure said the pitch "wasn't six inches off the ground."
O'Sullivan had an ominous feeling about the ball's trajectory.
"He struck it good," he said. "I had a feeling it was gonna go out. We made a mistake on one pitch and fell behind and they did what they were wanting to do."
O'Sullivan lifted Crawford in favor of Daniel Gibson after APSU catcher J.P. Torres reached on senior shortstop Cody Dent's second error of the game. Gibson retired two Governors' hitters in order to preserve UF's 3-1 lead. O'Sullivan said he thought that was the right time to pull Crawford, who threw 112 pitches.
He exited in line for the win, but ultimately did not factor into the decision.
"We haven't swung the bats great for quite some time now," O'Sullivan said. "I think it was pretty evident early on that it was going to be a low-scoring game."