The Austin Peay Governors is known as a winning team, says former head coach Gary McClure. And some of their victories stand out. In 2011, Gary McClure coached one such games when the Govs beat back Georgia Tech to take Game 1 of the NCAA tourney. Here, we speak with McClure about that memorable game.
Community Blog Online: Thanks for chatting with us today.
Gary McClure: Anytime.
Community Blog Online: We want to talk about one of your most memorable experiences as a coach. We understand you led the APSU Governors for 26 seasons, is that right?
Gary McClure: Yes. And I am very grateful for my time there.
Community Blog Online: What would you say is your most unforgettable game?
Gary McClure: There were so many, but one that’s been on my mind lately is the 2011 NCAA Tournament. Game 1 specifically. The Govs played the (Georgia Tech) Yellow Jackets and won.
Community Blog Online: Who pitched the game?
Gary McClure: Jack Snodgrass.
Community Blog Online: And he did well?
Gary McClure: He did, very much so. He’s a true competitor and probably pithed one of the best games i witnessed throughout my career. In this particular game, he threw seven extremely strong innings which no doubt contributed to the team’s victory.
Community Blog Online: Hadn’t Snodgrass been just recently (at the time) released to play after shoulder surgery?
Gary McClure: Yes, He missed the entire year prior to this and rehabbed all summer, but you’d never know it.
Community Blog Online: What was behind your decision to start Snodgrass?
Gary McClure: Jeremy Dobbs was actually the pitcher of the year in the OVC that year and had thrown game one of every series until the NCAA Regional. Both guys were throwing extremely well. To be honest, it was a situation where i just thought Jack was a better matchup for Georgia Tech because of the type of pitcher he was.He was definitely on his A-game and was coming off a tremendous outing against Jacksonville State in the OVC Tournament the week prior.
Community Blog Online: How did it feel to win an OVC Tournament and then start the NCAA contest on such a high note?
Gary McClure: It’s always great to watch these guys you’ve spent so much time with get out there and play their hearts out. They believed th were going to win and they acted like it.
Community Blog Online: How did Jordan Hankins perform?
Gary McClure: Jordan was amazing. He had a pretty impressive homer in the seventh inning. He probably the best freshman hitter i have coached or maybe seen. He also got big hits and it was no different that night. His home run actually gave us the lead and the win.
Community Blog Online: How do you think the Yellow Jackets were feeling about this time?
Gary McClure: Well, we really took their fans out of the game, and it was like someone let the air out of the entire team. I think the team and the coaches were just concerned about having a third straight failure in the Atlanta Regionals.
Community Blog Online: That sounds like a legitimate concern.
Gary McClure: It is. hey had a great year and were the number 1 seed in the regional. As a coach, it’s really hard to accept when your team doesn’t take the opportunities that are presented to them.
Community Blog Online: And you think that’s what happened with the Yellow Jackets?
Gary McClure: Maybe, but i don’t really think so. That’s why you play the games, we had a very good club and we just played the way we were capable. When you get to the regionals everybody is very good and you better show up!. Everyone has to get their team ready to play. They have a great program, we just went out and beat them.
Community Blog Online: Didn’t Georgia Tech have a few notable injuries during the game?
Gary McClure: At least one, yes. Their starting pitcher Mark Pope had been hurt and was trying to come back. They started him, but he just didn’t feel right and they got him out in the second inning. He was replaced by Matthew Grimes. Again, we all have injuries to our teams and we had some as well. As coaches you don’t make excuses, it’s going to happen and you have to overcome.
Community Blog Online: It was a pretty emotional game for Georgia Tech…
Gary McClure: Absolutely, it’s hard to see your team lose.
Community Blog Online: It is, indeed.
Gary McClure: In my almost three decades as head coach, I’ve had my fair share of heartbreaks. Baseball is a tough game and not always fair, that’s for sure!
Community Blog Online: Judging from your record, we would say you have had less heartache than many.
Gary McClure: I can’t really argue that. I am very tough on myself though, i take every loss pretty hard. Truthfully i hate losing much more than i love winning. That’s why i am so driven and competitive.
Community Blog Online: We’ll close on that note! Thank you again for your time today.