Gilliland gets the start vs. UAB

Former Boaz star Michael Gilliland pitches in Jacksonville State’s home game against Auburn this season. On Tuesday, the freshman left-hander earned the first start of his career. He didn’t get the decision in the Gamecocks’ 5-3 win over in-state rival UAB. Jax State wraps up its regular season this weekend at Austin Peay, with the Ohio Valley Conference regular-season title at stake.

 

JACKSONVILLE — The Jacksonville State baseball team wrapped up its 2019 home schedule and nonconference slate with a 5-3 win over in-state rival UAB on Tuesday night on Rudy Abbott Field at Jim Case Stadium.

The win marked the 20th on its home turf this season, which is the most since Jax State accumulated 21 wins at Rudy Abbott Field during the 2011 season.

The Gamecocks improved to 31-21 overall and posted their sixth consecutive win over the Blazers dating back to the 2015 season. UAB dropped to 25-28 on the season.

The Gamecocks made a five-run first inning stand up, as they nursed that lead the rest of the way.

JSU’s first six batters to face UAB starter Austin Bohannon reached with a hit, highlighted by back-to-back home runs by sophomore Cole Frederick and junior Alex Webb.

Frederick, who extended his hitting streak to 12 games, drilled an opposite field two-run home run to start the scoring.

Webb, who had a grand slam on Friday, greeted Bohannon with a solo blast over the right-field fence. It’s the third time this season that JSU has recorded back-to-back home runs, most recently at UT Martin on May 6.

Playing in his final home game, senior Nic Gaddis continued the string of hits with a single, followed by a double down the left-field line by sophomore Isaac Alexander.

Sophomore Alex Strachan finished the contagious hitting with a single. JSU scored its fifth run of the frame on a productive out by junior Devin Brown.

After the first inning, UAB’s five pitchers out of the bullpen kept JSU out of the scoring column and limited JSU to five hits in the final seven plate appearances.

JSU had four guys post multiple hits, as junior Tre Kirklin, Alexander, Strachan and Nash Adams all had two hits in the win.

Freshman Michael Gilliland, who has made 14 appearances on the season — all in relief — got his first start against UAB.

The Boaz left-hander tossed the first three innings and allowed all three of UAB’s runs on two Blazer hits.

The Jax State bullpen mirrored what the UAB relief staff did with five straight scoreless frames.

Sophomore Colin Casey pitched four innings and scattered three hits as the first man out of the bullpen. The Jacksonville product fanned three Blazers en route to notching his first career win as a Gamecock.

Senior Cody Willingham, a two-year member of the program, finished off the contest and collected his first career save at JSU.

The Gamecocks now shift their focus to the all-important final weekend series in the Ohio Valley Conference. JSU will travel to Clarksville, Tennessee, to face Austin Peay in a winner-take-all, as both will be vying for the OVC regular season title.

The Gamecocks and Governors have matched each other all throughout the first 27 games of the OVC slate with identical 19-8 marks in league play. The winner of the series at APSU’s Raymond C. Hand Park will be the top seed in the 2019 OVC Tournament in Marion Illinois, beginning May 21.

The series begins on Thursday with a 6 p.m. start, followed by another evening start time on Friday at 6. Saturday’s series finale is set for 1 p.m.

All three games will be available on ESPN Plus and carried on the Gamecock Sports Network.

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