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21 May 2007
JSU Nabs No. 2 Seed for OVC Tourney

From Staff Report
The Anniston Star

Reprinted here in its entirety.

MURRAY, Ky. — Jacksonville State has been struggling at various times this year with its pitching and, of late, its hitting. But Saturday, the Gamecocks were strong in both areas.

Senior Jake Ball had four hits to become the school's all-time hits leader and the pitching staff threw its second shutout of the season in a 12-0 victory over Murray State that clinched the No. 2 seed for next week's Ohio Valley Conference tournament.

The Gamecocks (31-25, 18-9) will open their tournament title defense Thursday, 2:30 p.m., against the highest seeded winner from the opening round games.

Jax State collected 20 hits in the game. In addition to Ball's four, Bert Smith, Clay Whittemore and Kyle McCreary each finished with three, while Nick Cleckler, Eric Beck and Josh Sanders each had two.

Ball and Whittemore both had three RBIs, while Smith drove in two.

Ball tied All-American Stewart Lee's career record of 241 hits with a single to right field in the second inning and broke it in the third with a single down the right field line.

The Hokes Bluff native now holds school records for hits (244), games played (219), career starts (214), at-bats (744) and walks (107).

“It's quite an honor, but honestly, I'm more excited that we won the game,” Ball said.

Freshman Ben Tootle (6-3) allowed just four hits and had four strikeouts in seven solid innings to earn his third straight win. The Oxford native has allowed just one run over his last 14 2/3 innings.

Tootle and Alex Jones held the Racers to five hits in the game. It was the Gamecocks' first shutout since Tootle and Clark Jinks blanked Middle Tennessee in a seven-inning game the first weekend of the season.

“Obviously, I thought it was good for Ben to pitch with the big lead,” JSU coach Jim Case said. “He kept throwing up zeros and we added a few runs as the game went along.”

JSU took control of the game early, scoring six runs in the second inning and three in the third. The Gamecocks scored all nine runs with two outs and finished 16-for-24 with two outs.

The All-OVC Team and Player of the Year awards will be announced Tuesday night.

OVC Tournament in Paducah, Ky.
Thursday, 2:30 p.m., FM 91.9

See story at The Anniston Star's website: .

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