Story by Mark McFarland, Assistant Sports Editor
The Racers traveled to second place Jacksonville State last weekend and came away with one win.
Despite having only one win in the series, the Racers’ offense did its part to help the team in the losing effort with 34 hits and 17 runs in three games. Head Coach Kevin Moulder said the bats have been there all season and have kept the Racers in games.
“We have been really consistent. We hit a little hole right after [Aaron]Bence and [Brandon]Gutzler got hurt and we kind of had to refine who we were,” Moulder said. “It took a little bit for guys to settle back into new roles, and as soon as they did that we’ve kind of picked back up where we were early in the season.”
In a game where both teams scored in a combined three innings the Racers lost to Evansville University 2-1 on Tuesday.
Senior right-handed pitcher Brad Boegle got his first start of the year and pitched six innings giving up three hits and one earned run. Boegle has been sidelined with an injury for most of the season. Moulder said he sent him out for the seventh inning due to giving up only two infield singles.
“He basically, more or less hadn’t given up a hit,” Moulder said. “He easily could have had a no-hitter going, had things gone a little differently in the first inning. He was throwing the ball extremely well. Brad Boegle is our top returning pitcher from last season and this is the first time he’s been fully healthy.”
The Racers finished the game with five hits and zero errors, while the Purple Aces finished with four hits and zero errors. Moulder was proud of his teams defensive effort to keep them in the game.
“Tonight I thought was the best defensive effort we’ve had all season,” Moulder said. “And probably our best pitched ball game all season as well.”
In the third and final game of the series, junior right-handed pitcher Ryan Dills pitched 5.1 innings, giving up no runs on three hits to earn his second win of the season. Sophomore infielder Caleb Hicks led the team with a 3-4 game and two RBIs. Moulder said Hicks and a few other guys have stepped up and given the team good at bats since the injuries to junior outfielders Aaron Bence and Brandon Gutzler.
Murray State scored two runs in the fourth, one in the seventh and three in the eighth to give the Racers the 6-0 lead. The Gamecocks scored four in the eighth and one in the ninth, but could not tie the game or take the lead. Right-handed pitcher and redshirt sophomore Brandon Hicks earned his first save of the year.
The Racers’ defense gave up four errors in the game which gave the team 12 errors in the series.
The Gamecocks scored 22 runs on 23 hits in the second game to beat the Racers 22-7 to clinch the series victory.
Despite having 12 hits, the Racers offense could not bring anyone in, leaving 12 runners on base. Murray State scored six runs in the first three innings for a 6-4 lead. However, Jacksonville State scored five runs in the bottom of the third inning to take a 9-6 lead. Junior first baseman Ramsey Scott led the Racers with a 3-4 performance, a double and three RBIs.
Although the offense did their part to give Murray State a chance to win, the defense gave up four errors to give the Gamecocks opportunities to score. Moulder said the defense needs to mature in order for the team to improve.
“I am afraid the answer is to get a year older,” Moulder said. “We’re extremely immature and young on the infield, and some of it is an experience deal and some of it is we got to get better.”
The Gamecocks continued their hot streak when they scored 13 runs in the final five innings to put the Racers away and secure the victory.
Jacksonville State took an early 5-0 lead in the first three innings on its way to an 11-4 win over Murray State.
The Racers had three different players have a multi-hit game to help the team get to 11 hits in the game. However, Murray State’s defense struggled, allowing four errors in the game, which led to six of the 11 runs given up by the team to be unearned.
With the series victory, the Gamecocks moved from 9-0 in the conference to 11-1 and still sit in second place in the conference. The Racers moved to 6-9 in the OVC and are in eighth place.
Murray Sate will have a week off before traveling to University of Mississippi for a mid-week showdown April 20. The Racers will have a conference showdown at home against fifth place Tennessee Tech April 22-24. Moulder said Wednesday’s game is more like a football game.
“We have a week off,” Moulder said. “You don’t want to be sitting around with a loss for a week.”