Jacksonville State was unable to overcome an early six-run first inning by Austin Peay and ultimately fell to Governors, 8-7, ending the Gamecocks season in the elimination round of the 2017 Ohio Valley Conference Baseball Tournament.
(Highlights in the featured video)
It marks the first time since 2013, when the Gamecocks fell to Eastern Kentucky and Belmont, JSU (30-26) failed to win a game in the conference's postseason tournament.
Less than nine hours after the conclusion of its game with Morehead State the night before, APSU returned to Choccolocco Park in Oxford, Ala. and jumped on JSU starting pitcher Derrick Adams for six runs off four hits, including a two-run triple and two-run home run, and one fielding error. Despite the rocky start, the sophomore left-handed pitcher from Decatur responded by matching his career-high in strikeouts with 10 after throwing 147 pitches to 34 batters over 6 2/3 innings. He was lifted in the top of the seventh for freshman Cody Dodd, who struck out one of the two batters he faced to end the inning. Justin Hoyt, JSU's All-OVC Second Team closer, worked the final two innings and allowed only a solo home run and double with two outs in the top of the ninth.
Jacques Pucheu, Austin Peay's starter, kept Jax State out of the run column until senior Josh Bobo connected on a 2-1 pitch for a two-run home run with one out in the bottom of the fifth. The hit scored fellow senior A.J. Reynolds, who led off the inning with a walk. Trent Simpson hit his third home run of the tournament when he drilled a 1-2 pitch down the left-field line for a one-out home run an inning later.
Bobo, who capped off a solid four-year career, finished with 16 career home runs and 137 career hits. The Attalla, Alabama native played in 153 games as a Gamecock.
APSU (28-29) added a run in the top of the seventh off Adams, before Hoyt surrendered a run in the ninth.
Trailing by five to start the bottom of the ninth, Jacksonville State attempted to mount a rally as Nic Gaddis lead off the inning with a single, which was followed by a two-run home run from Andrew Naismith. Josh Bobo recorded his second hit of the game when he hit a one-out single, which followed a Hayden White walk, and Nolan Greckel getting hit by a pitch to load the bases with one out.
Clayton Daniel extended his streak of reaching base against conference opponents when the JSU second baseman reached on a two-run fielding error by APSU, which scored White and Bobo to cut the Gamecocks' deficit to one. Daniel reached base in the final 29 games against OVC competition. The Guntersville, Alabama junior led JSU at the plate for second consecutive season with a .328 batting average.
However, Taylor Hawthorne, who extended his hitting streak against OVC teams to 14 consecutive games with a two-out double in the bottom of the first, grounded into a double play to bring the season to an end.
JSU reached the OVC Baseball Tournament for the 14th consecutive year and every single season that the program has been a member of the league. The Gamecocks's 30-win season is the 33rd in the program's history and the 14th under head coach Jim Case.
Anticipation is already stirring around the program for the 2018 season with a renovated Rudy Abbott Field on the JSU campus. The Gamecocks played all of their home games during the 2017 season at the pristine Choccolocco Park in Oxford.
(Courtesy: JSU Sports Information: www.jsugamecocksports.com)