JACKSONVILLE — Andrew Naismith and Jacksonville State’s baseball team share a trend pattern … upward.
Naismith drove in three runs on three hits, including a home run, and JSU opened a three-game series by beating Big Ten Conference member Purdue 4-0 on Friday on Rudy Abbott Field at Jim Case Stadium.
The victory came two days after Nash Adams crushed an 11th-inning grand slam to lift JSU over traditional rival Troy 9-5. The Gamecocks won their first Ohio Valley Conference series of the season last weekend, taking two games out of three against Eastern Illinois at home.
Naismith’s day included a two-run home run to center field in the sixth inning. He also slashed an RBI single in the fifth inning.
The junior first baseman, batting .222 coming into Friday’s game, got the game-tying hit against Troy. He also went 2-for-4 with a triple and three RBIs in the series opener against Eastern Illinois.
“I’ve been pressing a lot lately, and I’m finally getting some confidence at the plate,” said Naismith, a .291 hitter a year ago but batting in the eight hole. “It’s see-ball, hit-ball approach, try to stay inside stuff. I’ve been rolling over, so it feels good to get things going.”
Naismith’s three-hit performance Friday marked a season-high and the most since he smacked four on March 31 of last year, in the Murray State series finale.
“That was a huge thing for us, for him to have the night that he had,” JSU coach Jim Case said. “His swing, to me, is getting back to where, when he is going good, boy he hits the ball great to the opposite field.
“Early this year, things were going to the right side, and that’s not a real good sign for him. I thought, tonight, he was really good.”
What to know
—Nic Gaddis drove in JSU’s other run on a first-inning double. The RBI was the 100th of the senior catcher’s collegiate career. He went 2-for-3 to record his ninth multi-hit game and reached base for the 10th consecutive game.
—Starting pitcher Garrett Farmer improved to 2-0 on the season, throwing seven scoreless innings. He allowed four hits with four strikeouts and no walks. He worked 89 pitches and faced two batters over the minimum, inducing one double-play ball, and his snake-strike move to first base netted a pickoff throw and a rundown on a steal attempt.
—Leadoff hitter Tre Kirklin went 2-for-4 with a run. This after he hit two solo home runs against Troy. He’s 7-for-17 with seven runs and two RBIs in his last four games.
—Case, on JSU’s momentum: “It’s moving that way. It’s not moving as quickly as we’d like for it to, where everything is just hitting on all cylinders. If we keep working, I feel like we’re doing it more together. I feel like we’re kind of figuring out who we are as a team a little bit, and everybody’s pulling in the same direction. If we’ll do that, we’ll be A-OK.”
—Farmer, on wanting to finish Friday’s game: “When coach told me I was out, it was absolutely a heartbreaker, but, you know, it’s not conference (play). As much as I’d like to finish that game and go into a hundred pitches and finish the game, just being smart, it seemed practical for health to call it off.”
—JSU (9-10) plays the second game of a three-game home series against Big Ten Conference opponent Purdue (3-13) today. First pitch at 1 p.m. today and Sunday.