MURRAY, Ky. — Junior Donovan Hand had eight strikeouts and allowed just three
hits in a 10-inning complete-game win to lead Jacksonville State to a 2-1 win
over Murray State in the second game of the final Ohio Valley Conference series
The 'Breds used a strong pitching performance by Mike Perconte to earn a 6-3
win in the opener.
The Gamecocks improved to 30-25 and 17-9 in the OVC, while Murray State
improved to 18-32, 12-12. It marks the fifth straight 30-win season for the
Gamecocks, who are still just one game out of first-place Austin Peay and
one-half game ahead of Southeast Missouri State after both the Govs and Redhawks
split their games on Friday.
The first game loss to Murray State could've spelled disaster for the
Gamecocks' chance for a first-round bye next week at the OVC Tournament, but
Hand stepped up with one of his best pitching performances of his career.
The Hatton, Ala., native retired the final 19 batters he faced and did not
issue any walks to improve his record to 7-7 on the season. He threw 121 pitches
and lowered his ERA to a season-best 3.91. Murray State's Anthony Stacy (2-1)
scattered eight hits and allowed just two runs in 9.1 innings to get stuck with
“Donovan was just fantastic,” said JSU head coach Jim Case. “I don't know if
there was anybody else we would want on the mound in a must-win situation. To
come up as big as he did and to retire the final 19 was magnificent and a huge
shot in the arm for our team.
“We are such a good offensive club and have been all year, but when you get
shut down like we did, the job of the pitcher is to continue to throw up zeros,”
added Case. “He was just in total command.”
Hand recorded the first four outs of the game, then gave up a one-out double
to right center in the second inning to allow his first hit. After striking out
Tyler Owen for the second out, he got Andrew Cella to fly out to right field to
end the inning. He then cruised until the fifth inning, when he gave up his
other two hits.
James Aiken reached on a one-out single through the left side, then stole
second and moved to third after JSU catcher Andrew Edge made a bad throw to
second. Tyler Pittman then hit a 2-1 pitch up the middle, just out of reach of
Hand, to score Aiken and tie the game at 1-1 with the unearned run. Murray State
would not reach base again as the game went three extra frames.
“I really felt like I got in a zone,” said Hand, who has earned OVC Pitcher
of the Week honors three times this year. “I wasn't worried about throwing hard,
I just wanted to hit my spots and location and try to make pitches.”
The 10 innings on the mound was the longest outing by any pitcher in the OVC
this season and also was a career-long outing for Hand. He has allowed just five
hits in his last 17.0 innings while pitching on the road.
Jax State took a 1-0 lead in the second inning after Edge had a two-out
single down the right field line and moved to second when Kyle McCreary followed
with an infield bunt single to third. Josh Sanders then singled to right field
to score Edge and give the Gamecocks the lead.
Jax State scored the winning run in the top of the 10th inning after McCreary
led off with a double down the right field line and moved to third on a
sacrifice bunt by Sanders. With the infield playing in, Bert Smith singled up
the middle to score McCreary for JSU's fifth final at-bat win of the year.
McCreary finished 3-for-4 to lead the Gamecocks, while Edge was 2-for-4.
Pittman had two of Murray State's three hits.
Ben Tootle will get the start in the final regular-season game today at 1
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