It seemed that way a lot Tuesday night as Jacksonville State lost to rival Troy 9-1 at Rudy Abbott Field in its only game between two conference road weekends in Kentucky.
The Trojans (12-11) scored a bunch of their early runs on balls that shot either inside the bag, just inside the line or just out of the reach of a fielder’s mitt. The Gamecocks (8-16), meanwhile had too many balls that were right at somebody.
“I thought they did a great job of being aggressive with the bats,” JSU coach Jim Case said. “From a pitching standpoint we’re trying to upset timing and we were having a dickin’s of a time doing that. They were taking great swings.
“We’ve talked so many times about hitting being contagious and offensively they come into the game very similar to the way we’ve been swinging the bat, but you could just see it. Their confidence got going and it was tough to stop it. They were very offensive and did a nice job tonight.”
The first inning was a perfect example. Troy’s first two hits off JSU starter Bradley Raulston were a bloop single by Jakob Nixon and double by Tyler Hannah just inside the third-base bag. They both scored on Danny Collins’ two-run double that was a carbon-copy of Hannah’s hit.
Later in the game, Chase Mathis had a two-run double that was just down the left-field line.
Of course, the Trojans hit some balls that left no doubt about their result. Boone Shear ripped a solo homer in the fourth and Collins greeted reliever Casey Antley with a three-run homer in the fifth that broke the game open.
The Gamecocks got on the scoreboard in the seventh on Stephen Bartlett’s one-out RBI infield single up the middle, but Troy staved off further damage with an inning-ending double play.
They ended up with eight hits, but their hitters struck out 13 times. It was the ninth time this year they struck out at least 10 times in a game. Bartlett and Sam Eberle each had two hits.
Troy starter Joe Hernandez retired nine of the 10 JSU batters he faced in the first three innings, striking out five. The only runner he allowed was Michael Bishop’s bloop double in the third that second baseman Nixon lost in the lights.
Al Muskewitz covers Jacksonville State sports for The Star. He can be reached at 256-235-3577.