JACKSONVILLE – Jacksonville State plated six runs in the third inning, struck out 14 and expanded the lead in the late innings to knock off third-ranked Ole Miss, 10-6, on Tuesday night on Rudy Abbott Field at Jim Case Stadium.
The Gamecocks (7-10), won their third straight game and will carry the momentum from one of the best wins in program history into the first weekend of ASUN action. The Rebels, the reigning national champions, dropped their first road midweek game of the season and fell to 14-3 heading into Southeastern Conference play at Vanderbilt on Thursday night in Nashville, Tennessee. The win marked the first against the visitors from Oxford, Mississippi and the second win over a team from the SEC this season. Jax State claimed a win over Georgia on Opening Day. Tuesday's win was the third against a top-10 program as Jax State knocked off to-ranked UGA in 2009 and claimed a 9-8 win over the No. 8 Bulldogs during the 2019 season.
After the Rebels jumped out to a 3-0 lead in the top half of the third inning on a pair of RBI doubles and an RBI single. The Gamecocks responded with the first eight batters of the inning reaching base, highlighted by one of freshman Bear Madliak's three doubles on the night to push the first of six runs across the dish. Junior Javon Hernandez followed with an RBI single and after junior Mason Maners walked to load the bases, senior T.J. Reeves was hit-by-the-pitch. After Hernandez scored on a wild pitch, sophomore Brennen Norton laced a two RBI single to right field.
GAMECOCKS WIN!!! Down goes #3 Ole Miss!!! pic.twitter.com/wgTAGAHSaK— Jax State Baseball (@JaxStateBB) March 15, 2023
Jax State junior Jake Peppers started his third game against an SEC batting order and struck out four Rebels in 2.0 innings of work. Junior Will Baker was touched for the three runs in the third, but bounced back for a clean third inning after Jax State took the lead. UM trimmed the deficit to a run in the fifth with a pair of runs off of senior Trey Fortner in his first of three innings on the night. Fortner settled in for the next two frames to keep the explosive Rebel offense quiet with four strikeouts. Junior Reid Fagerstrom pitched the eighth inning and sophomore AJ Causey used his bullpen day to close out the Rebels in order to preserve the win. The 14 strikeouts by the five Jax State pitchers was the most against the Rebels this season. The strikeout mark matched JSU's staff high for a single game this season. Gamecock pitchers fanned 14 versus Bradley on March 5.
A pair of RBI doubles by Maners and pinch hitter Will Fincher expended the Jax State lead in the sixth inning. Maners, who reached twice on the night, extended his on-base streak to 29 games dating back to last season. He and Reeves have now reached base in all 17 games this season. The top-two hitters were tough outs for Rebel pitching all night as the tandem tallied an RBI double from Madliak and a triple from Hernandez. Madliak and Hernandez combined for seven of Jax State's 13 hits. The Gamecocks' hit total matched a season-high for UM as Maryland touched the Rebels' pitching staff for 13 hits on February 24.
E6 | Jax State puts together three doubles in the frame to expand the lead— Jax State Baseball (@JaxStateBB) March 15, 2023
Norton finished with a pair of hits on the night and is returning back to his form of 2022. In his last six games, the Cullman, Alabama third baseman has collected eight hits and six RBI. Since being slotted in the leadoff spot, Madliak has accumulated 11 hits, including four doubles and has five RBI.
The Gamecocks turn their attention to the start of the 30-game ASUN slate this weekend, hosting conference newcomer Queens University out of Charlotte, North Carolina. The series begins on Friday at 6 p.m. on Rudy Abbott Field at Jim Case Stadium. The series continues through the weekend with a 6 p.m. start time on Saturday and the series finale on Sunday at 1 p.m.
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