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Gary McClure Discusses APSU’s First Back-to-Back NCAA Showing

Gary McClureIn 2012, head coach Gary McClure and the Austin Peay State University Governors faced off against the Oregon Ducks. Here, McClure opens up about this iconic match. 

Information Nation: Welcome! We’re excited to have the opportunity to speak with you today. 

Gary McClure: I am always willing to talk about sports –  especially baseball!

Information Nation: With the 2016 season coming up, we would like to take a look back on some past highlights in college baseball. To start, let’s look at Austin Peay State University.

Gary McClure: We had some great teams and several teams that surprised many in the college baseball world.

Information Nation: We understand you have quite a bit of experience with the Governors…

Gary McClure: You could definitely say that. I coached the team for 27 seasons.

Information Nation: We know that you led the Governors to many of their “firsts.” If so, do any of  those stick out? 

Gary McClure: Well, i suppose that is true. One that stands out in my mind is the team’s trip to Oregon. It was June 1st, 2012 for the NCAA Baseball Championships hosted by the University of Oregon.

Information Nation: Against?

Gary McClure: We played the Oregon Ducks.

Information Nation: Why does this particular game stand out?

Gary McClure: It was a pretty monumental contest simply for the fact that it was the furthest west the Governors had been in program history and the excitement that surrounded that regional because it was the first time we had qualified in back to back seasons.

Information Nation: Prior to that? 

Gary McClure: 1991 – when we traveled to Wichita, Kansas.

Information Nation: What other teams were in this particular set? 

Gary McClure: Cal State Fullerton and Indiana State.

Information Nation: How did the Governors make it into the Championship?

Gary McClure: We won the tournament and earned the OVC’s automatic bid. That tournament championship was pretty significant in itself because we lost the first game in a double elimination tournament and then fought back through the loser’s bracket having to win 5 straight games to win the championship.

Information Nation: The Govs also took a share of the OVC regular-season title, correct?

Gary McClure: We did, tying Eastern Kentucky with a 19-7 League Mark. However we did win the tiebreaker because we beat them 2 of 3 games during the regular season.

Information Nation: This was an important game for the Ducks as well… 

Gary McClure: It was, actually. It was Oregon’s first ever national seed. They were number five in the country.

Information Nation: But not the Ducks’ first NCAA Tournament?

Gary McClure: It was their fourth overall appearance and the second since the program had been since it was brought back in 2009.

Information Nation: Cal State Fullerton was pretty seasoned in the NCAA by this time, is that right?

Gary McClure: Yes, more so than any of the other teams. They were coming in on their 21st consecutive showing with 34 total NCAA baseball appearances under their belts.

Information Nation: And Indiana State?

Gary McClure: This was the Sycamores’ eighth championship appearance. However, it was their first in nearly 20 years and they featured one of the best pitchers in college baseball who would become a first round MLB draft pick and a multimillionaire in the near future.

Information Nation: Had Austin Peay faced Indiana State previously? 

Gary McClure: You could say we were old foes. We had competed at least three dozen times before and their coach Rick Heller and myself played against each other at rival high schools back in Iowa in every sport since we were 12 years old.

Information Nation: Had your team ever played the Cal State Fullerton Titans?

Gary McClure: Not at the time.

Information Nation: Did you do anything special with the team to prepare them for their big game?

Gary McClure: We ate dinner at Rafferty’s the night before. The guys called it their “Peay Pairings Party” After that it was business as usual in preparation for the tournament.

Information Nation: It certainly sounds like fun.

Gary McClure: It was and I look back on my almost three decades with Austin Peay with nothing but fond memories for the most part.