Coley Birchfield, Correspondent
The Jacksonville State University baseball team kicked off its 2021 season at Rudy Abbott Field last weekend. The Gamecocks ended the three-game round Robin Tournament with two losses and a win.
The Gamecocks’ lone win came on Saturday against Alabama State, with their losses coming to Southern Illinois and Ohio Valley Conference foe Tennessee Tech.
Senior utility player Jaylen Williams led the Gamecocks offense with a .333 batting average on the weekend. His best performance came against Southern Illinois on Friday in which he had two RBIs and another score of his own.
Williams was not the lone contributor at the plate, though. Sophomore, Carson Crowe, launched a near-400 foot homerun over the right field scoreboard against SIU. He ended the weekend with a .286 batting average, two RBIs and three strikeouts.
SIU handed Jax State a 8-7 loss. But, the Gamecocks bounced back with a 4-3 win over ASU.
The relief pitching of Kyle Luigs and Corley Woods secured the teams first win of the season. The pair held the Hornets to just one run over their five combined innings. Luigs, a senior, was credited the win after the Gamecocks scored twice in the home-half of the seventh inning.
The Gamecocks found themselves in a rare early-season matchup against an OVC opponent on Sunday. Tennessee Tech showed to be a threat for the conference crown after capturing the 5-4 road win.
Jacksonville native, Colin Casey, got the starting pitching role for the Gamecocks. The junior threw a career-high four strikeouts in just 4.2 innings of work. However, late game defense did not equal that of Saturday’s win. The Golden Eagles took advantage of Jax State relievers for three runs in the final two innings of play.
One takeaway from the weekend was Jax State’s inability to produce consistent scoring throughout games.
Jim Case’s team often found themselves scoring their points in only two to three innings a game. Whereas, Tennessee Tech was able to stretch their 5 runs over 4 innings throughout the contest. This caused JSU to often find itself facing the opposing starters deep into contests, while only receiving three to four innings of work from their own.
On the contrary, a great deal of credit should be given to the Gamecocks’ experienced leadership. The team was able to turn to upperclassmen at both the plate and mound in key situations. This will greatly assist the Gamecocks during the season, as the new faces will be able to mold around the JSU core. A group of players who have won an OVC championship and reached an NCAA tournament regional.
The Gamecocks also lost at home to the Alabama Crimson Tide on Tuesday, with a score of 5-2.
The Valparaiso Crusaders will make the trek from Indiana to Rudy Abbott Field on Friday to face off against the Gamecocks three times: once on Friday at 4 p.m. and twice on Saturday at 1 p.m. and 4 p.m. The game will be streamed live on ESPN+ and broadcast on WLJS 91.9 FM.