May 9—JACKSONVILLE — Jacksonville State got off to a great start Saturday, shutting out Southern Illinois-Edwardsville 10-0 in the first game of a doubleheader at Jim Case Stadium.
Unfortunately for the Gamecocks, one great showing doesn't always guarantee a three-game series victory.
After falling to the Cougars 4-3 in Friday night's opener, JSU dropped Saturday's nightcap 4-2. Despite outscoring SIUE 15-8 over the weekend, the Gamecocks had just one win to show for it, a fact that left head coach Jim Case "tremendously disappointed."
"I'm not throwing up my hands, because I think we've still got a really good chance if we play well down the stretch. I don't know exactly where we stand, but I've got an idea," he said. "I'm not throwing up my hands, but certainly disappointed. I don't care who we play here, I feel like we should be able to win two."
Where JSU (23-23, 13-11 Ohio Valley Conference) stands is in fourth place in the league standings. Southeast Missouri and Murray State are tied for first place at 15-9, and Morehead State is third at 12-9. Only four teams make the conference tournament this year, and several teams are lurking just behind the Gamecocks. SIUE, Belmont and Austin Peay are in a three-way tie for fifth at 12-12.
Despite not getting the desired result against SIUE, second baseman Cole Frederick and the Gamecocks remain confident moving forward.
"It's definitely not what we expected, but we're not by any means out of it. We know if we get down, we're not going to play any better like that. So we're just staying positive, just looking forward to the next one now," Frederick said. "We still got ourselves in a good spot. I think we're in fourth still, so we just know that, if we do what we're supposed to do, we'll be right there."
JSU has six conference games left — three at Austin Peay and three at home against Eastern Illinois — and Case said he'd like to see more consistency down the stretch. That means continuing to pitch well, playing good defense and taking advantage of opportunities when they arise.
"I think we have the right people to do that and I think we can do it," he said. "We just haven't done it consistently over a long period of time."
What to know
—Frederick went 4-for-4 in the opener with three RBIs, one run and one stolen base. Nash Adams failed to record a hit but finished with three RBIs, two on sacrifice flies and one with a bases-loaded walk.
—The bottom of the lineup did a good job of setting the table for Frederick, Nash and company. Eight-hole hitter Alex Strachan reached base in his first four at-bats, with a single and three walks, and finished with four runs. Nine-hole hitter Tanner Anderson went 2-for-4 with two runs.
—Kyle Luigs started Game 1 and pitched the first three innings, allowing no runs on three hits and a walk. Trey Fortner came on in relief and earned the win, allowing no runs on four hits and one walk over five innings. With the Gamecocks leading 7-0, Fortner loaded the bases without getting an out in the top of the fifth inning. After a mound visit from Case, he struck out the next three batters in order to get out of the jam. He sat down 10 straight Cougars — six via strikeout — after Case's visit and finished the game with a career-high seven Ks.
—The Gamecocks avoided a shutout in Game 2 when Alex Webb hit a two-run homer in the bottom of the ninth inning.
—Carson Crowe continued to swing a hot bat, finishing the day 4-for-8 with two doubles, one run and one RBI.
—Frederick on his Game 1 performance: "They were just falling. Came with a good approach, just ready to hit. Just trying to put the bat on the ball and make something good happen, and that's what happened that game. And we were all hitting. It was a team effort. Came up a bunch of times with runners on, which made it a little easier, because the defense was out of place. I was just trying to put a good swing on it and get some guys in."
—Case on his conversation with Fortner: "Basically I was just trying to settle him down and say, 'Don't try to do too much. We got a lead. We just don't need crooked numbers right here.' He ended up striking out the side and getting us in, which was great. But I said, 'You don't have to do anything spectacular. What we need you to do is just get us back in the dugout with a big lead.'"
—The Gamecocks will host Alabama State in a non-conference game Wednesday at 6 p.m. before hitting the road for a three-game weekend series against Austin Peay.
Assistant Sports Editor Jared Gravette: 256-235-3572. On Twitter: @Jared_Gravette.