Redbirds Return to Tennessee, Battle Austin Peay

Feb. 21, 2013

Illinois State at Austin Peay| Feb. 22-24
Location: Clarksville, Tenn. (Raymond C. Hand Park, 1,000)
Friday 2/22: 3:00 p.m.
Saturday 2/23: 1:00 p.m.
Sunday 2/24: 1:00 p.m.
Game Notes: Illinois State
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CLARKSVILLE, Tenn. - Following a series-win at Memphis last weekend, the Illinois State baseball program returns to Tennessee for a three-game series at Austin Peay, Feb. 22-24. The opener between the Redbirds and Governors is slated for 3:00 p.m. Friday from Raymond C. Hand Park.

Illinois State came from behind to win the first two games of its season-opening series at Memphis last weekend. Senior starter Brad Sorkin earned the victory in Friday's 5-2 win. Saturday, Zac Johnson and Kyle Stanton launched two-run home runs as Illinois State rallied for runs in each of the game's final four innings to defeat the Tigers, 7-4. Four errors sunk the Redbirds on Sunday, as Memphis took the series-finale, 5-2.

Austin Peay opened its season with a series-win versus Big 10-foe Iowa. Pitching ace Lee Ridenhour allowed one run on one hit over seven innings, with seven strike outs in the season-opener Friday. Iowa took game two, 13-1, before the Governors claimed the series-win with a 6-1 victory Sunday. Junior starter A.J. Gaura struck out seven in his season-debut. Austin Peay added a mid-week win at Middle Tennessee Tuesday, 5-2.

The Redbirds are guided by fourth-year head coach Mark Kingston, who earned his 100th career victory in opening round action of the 2012 Missouri Valley Conference Championship. Kingston sports a 103-62 overall record.

The Volunteers are led by veteran head coach Gary McClure. The Austin Peay graduate is in his 26th season as head coach and posts a 755-677-4 overall record. McClure guided the Governors to an Ohio Valley Conference championship last season, earning a spot in the NCAA Regional in Eugene, Ore.

After facing three left-handed starters last weekend at Memphis, Illinois State will see a trio of right-handers this weekend in Clarksville. In the series-opener Friday, Illinois State throws senior right-hander Brad Sorkin (1-0, 1.50 ERA) versus APSU starter Lee Ridenhour (1-0, 1.29 ERA). Lefty Dylan Craig (0-0, 4.50 ERA) makes his second Redbird start Saturday and will face right-hander Casey Delgado (0-1, 9.64 ERA). Sunday, Dan Savas (0-0, 1.59 ERA) counters A.J. Gaura (1-0, 1.42 ERA).

This weekend's series will take place Friday at 3 p.m., Saturday at 1 p.m. and Sunday at 1 p.m, with all three games broadcast live on GoRedbirds.com and WJBC.com.

The Opposition: Austin Peay (3-1, 0-0 Ohio Valley Conference)
• Austin Peay State University is located in Clarksville, Tenn. The Governors are members of the Ohio Valley Conference.
• APSU went 40-24 last year and won the Ohio Valley Conference with a 19-7 conference record.
• APSU was selected to win the 2013 Ohio Valley Conference, per the OVC preseason baseball poll.
• The Governors are coached by Gary McClure, who is in his 26th season as head coach. The APSU graduate owns a career record of 755-677-4.
• Illinois State is 11-18 all-time versus APSU and lost three-of-four games versus the Governors last season.

Johnson, Stanton Power Offense
Seniors Zac Johnson and Kyle Stanton collected opening-weekend home runs to power the Illinois State offense to a series-win at Memphis. Johnson led the Redbird offense in average (.385), on-base percentage (.429), slugging percentage (.615), home runs (1), RBI (3) and total bases (8). Stanton's two-run home run in the sixth inning Saturday gave Illinois State it's first lead of the game. The Redbirds erased deficits in each of the three games at Memphis and collected a season-best 11 hits on opening night.

Razo Shines As Closer
Entering the 2013 season, the Illinois State coaching staff was faced with the challenge of replacing Kenny Long, the current Houston Astros prospect who graduated from Illinois State last May as Redbird baseball's all-time leader in career-saves (28), single-season saves (13), appearances (96), batting average against (.200) and games finished (73). Long was a three-time All-Missouri Valley Conference First Team selection and was selected by the Houston Astros in the 22nd round of the 2012 Major League Baseball First-Year Player Draft last June.
The coaching staff named senior Chris Razo as its closer, and the right-hander collected saves in both Illinois State wins at Memphis. Razo struck out two and did not allow a run in his debut Friday and earned a one-out save Saturday, recording the final out with the tying run at home plate for the Tigers.

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