College baseball: JSU drops Game 3 of series with Northwestern State
by Al Muskewitz
amuskewitz@annistonstar.com
Feb 16, 2014 | 2415 views |  0 comments | 21 21 recommendations | email to a friend | print
JACKSONVILLE -- Most of the contender coaches in the Ohio Valley Conference believe the keys to separating themselves in the tightest part of the race are the most effective closer and the Game 3 result.

Jacksonville State has the closer part down pretty good, even though it didn’t use him Sunday, but the Game 3 part needs a little work.

The Gamecocks lost the getaway game in their season-opening series with Northwestern (La.) State 6-3 at Rudy Abbott Field.

They had the first two games in hand so they won the series, which is a good sign for league play, but Sunday’s loss kept them from a sweep and matching their best start since coach Jim Case’s first season.

Good thing it’s early.

“Certainly we’re happy to win a series. That’s the goal going in and we talk about it,” Case said. “If we can get in the habit of winning series, when it all adds up at the end of the conference season we’ll be in good shape.

“The disappointing thing today is I didn’t think we played the way that we could on a day when we had a chance to really make hay. You don’t get a chance every weekend to sweep … and today was a day we really had a chance to get after it.”

The Gamecocks (2-1) typically have been good in Game 3s of series. Last season, they were 8-4 in the getaway games and at one stretch won six in a row. The year before they were 10-2, 8-1 in the OVC with seven being series winners.

“I think if you went back through our years in this league, but I bet we’ve won a boatload of Game 3s and I think we will (continue),” Case said. “I think we’ll have pitching depth that can match most of those people. I think the guy at the back end of our bullpen (Travis Stout) is going to be really good.

“I don’t think today is going to be indicative of how we play and I don’t think any of the things that hurt us today had anything to do with Game 3. Those things could have happened in Game 1.”

The Gamecocks made three errors that led to four unearned runs -- two in a five-run fourth inning -- hit three more batters (for 11 in the series), ran out of a scoring situation and failed to deliver a timely hit late in the game. It detracted from an otherwise good showing from their four pitchers.

Tyler Gamble drove in two of JSU’s three runs, the last one with a leadoff homer in the ninth. The other run scored as the Demons (1-2) turned a double play.

The Gamecocks brought the go-ahead run to the plate trailing 5-2 in the eighth but Andrew Bishop, who had two hits and an RBI in each of the first two games, struck out to end the inning.

Al Muskewitz covers Jacksonville State sports for The Star. He can be reached at 256-235-3577.
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