Walk-off homer downs Tide

JACKSONVILLE -- The magic continued on Wednesday night for the Jacksonville State Gamecocks against the University of Alabama baseball team. For the second time in the last three meetings at Rudy Abbott Field, JSU hit a walk off home run and pulled out a come-from-behind win.

JSU senior catcher Scott Smith slammed his second home run of the game in the bottom of the ninth inning to give the Gamecocks a 4-3 win in front of a standing room only, record crowd of 2,463 fans on a chilly night in Jacksonville. Smith smashed a 3-1 fastball over the left field wall off freshman left-hander Wade LeBlanc (0-1) to give JSU its fourth win over the Crimson Tide in the last seven meetings and second in a row.

JSU designated hitter Robby Goodson opened the inning with a single to left field and scored on Smith's second home run of the game.

"In a one-run game and their two best hitters coming up, anything can happen," Alabama head coach Jim Wells said.

Alabama (2-2) struggled at the plate against three JSU pitchers and allowed the Gamecocks to hang close until the end. The Crimson Tide managed only six hits, including four singles, and struck out 13 times against three JSU hurlers.

"We swing and miss too much," Wells added. "We can't produced an offense right now. We have lost a couple of close games. We have to find a way to get a hit at the right time."

Alabama scored single runs in the second and third innings to take a 2-0 lead off JSU starter C.R. Palmer. Sophomore left fielder Evan Bush singled with one out in the second inning and then stole second base. Senior catcher Nick Richardson followed with a two-out double, scoring Bush with the first run of the game.

Alabama doubled its lead in the third when junior third baseman Allen Rice doubled and scored two wild pitches later. Rice had two hits in the game and is the only UA player to hit safely in all four games.

Smith's first home run of the game pulled JSU to within 2-1 in the bottom of the fourth inning. JSU tied the game in the fifth when Matt Ruckdeschel singled, stole second and scored on Demopolis native Bret Pettus' single to left field.

Palmer allowed two runs on four hits in five innings for JSU. The senior right-hander added one walk and eight strikeouts. Clark Andres pitched one scoreless inning, with one strikeout.

Bush snapped a 2-2 tie with his first career home run in the seventh inning off right-hander Josh Forrest. Bush has four hits in last two games for the Crimson Tide.

Forrest (1-0) pitched three innings for the win. The right-hander allowed one run and two hits and added four strikeouts.

Alabama starter Andrew Walker held the Gamecocks to two runs and five hits in seven-plus innings in his second start of the season. Walker added one walk and fanned five. Senior Seth Johnson pitched a scoreless eighth inning, with one strikeout. LeBlanc (0-1) did not retire a batter and allowed two runs and two hits in his first career loss at Alabama.

Alabama returns to action Friday night as they host the Cincinnati Bearcats in the first of a three-game series at Sewell-Thomas Stadium. The game begins at 6:30 p.m. Jax State hits the road for the first time this weekend as they visit No. 5 LSU at Alex Box Stadium in the first of a three-game series on Friday at 6:30 p.m.

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