Not getting it done: JSU, 1 win shy of clinching OVC berth, loses 2 to UT-Martin
by Jared Gravette
Sports Correspondent
May 16, 2009 | 1685 views |  0 comments | 14 14 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Jacksonville State's Jake Sharrock throws to first as UT-Martin's Kevin Hall slides in safely to second. The Gamecocks lost both games of a doubleheader to the Skyhawks on Friday, setting up a possible win-or-go-home scenario for today's Game 3. Photo: Bill Wilson/The Anniston Star
Jacksonville State's Jake Sharrock throws to first as UT-Martin's Kevin Hall slides in safely to second. The Gamecocks lost both games of a doubleheader to the Skyhawks on Friday, setting up a possible win-or-go-home scenario for today's Game 3. Photo: Bill Wilson/The Anniston Star
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JACKSONVILLE — Coming into Friday's doubleheader against UT-Martin, the Jacksonville State baseball team simply needed to put one in the win column to clinch a spot in the Ohio Valley Conference tournament.

But the Gamecocks simply didn't have it, losing 11-7 in the first game and 17-2 in the second.

With no shot at making the postseason, the Skyhawks played the role of spoiler against JSU, leading wire-to-wire in each contest to extend the Gamecocks' current losing streak to seven.

"It's extremely disappointing, not from the standpoint of getting in the tournament, it's extremely disappointing the way we played," JSU coach Jim Case said. "Really for the last couple of weeks, we have not played very well.

"Regardless of whether you are in the tournament or not, you want to be playing the game the right way, and we are struggling right now. We are scuffling a little bit."

In the first game, the Gamecocks got down early but had plenty of chances to claw their way back. But JSU (28-23, 10-12 OVC) couldn't come through in the clutch.

UT-Martin got on the board first with a big second inning, as four Skyhawks scored after second basemen Blake Seguin's fielding error.

The Gamecocks cut the deficit to one in the bottom of the third on the strength of a Todd Cunningham triple, but UT-Martin's bats kept pouring it on. The Skyhawks scored in each of the next three innings, increasing their lead to 8-5.

JSU's best chance at a comeback came with one out and the bases loaded in the seventh. Drew Flaniken's wild pitch pushed Heath Wall across the plate and allowed both runners to advance into scoring position with two of the Gamecocks' better hitters, Kyle Bluestein and Steven Leach, coming to the plate.

Bluestein fouled out to the second baseman, and Leach followed with a ground out to end any chance of a JSU rally.

The Skyhawks scored three more in the top of the eighth to put the game out of reach.

"In the first game, we fell behind, but we had opportunities. We had very, very good opportunities and just couldn't seem to get over the hump," Case said.

Nothing went right for the Gamecocks in the nightcap.

JSU starting pitcher Austin Lucas (6-3) lasted only two innings, giving up six hits, two walks and five earned runs. To make matters worse, JSU's defense committed six errors.

Conversely, UT-Martin pitcher Coty Green was superb, pitching all seven innings while allowing only one earned run.

"In the second game, we came out and didn't do a very good job in our defensive part of the first inning of getting the game going under control," Case said. "I think their confidence level went up, our confidence level went down. It was just a scuffle and a struggle and we never could recover."

The Gamecocks have been heading in the wrong direction over the past two weeks and will need either a win over UT-Martin or an Eastern Kentucky loss today to clinch a spot in the conference tournament. Case will send his ace, Ben Tootle, to the mound in hopes of ending the regular season on a high note.

"I think (ending the season with a win will be) huge," Case said. "We have lost seven in a row. There is no way you want to go into a tournament losing eight games in a row. We may not even go to the tournament if we lose tomorrow. Obviously, tomorrow becomes a very big day.

"Ben will get the ball for us, and I feel very confident with the ball in his hands in a game like that where we need to win. But it's not going to be just him, it will be a team effort if we are able to get it done."


Today: UT-Martin at JSU

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