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Extra-Inning Blues: Memphis Baseball Drops 2 of 3 vs Jacksonville State

Memphis pitcher Logan Rushing celebrates after escaping a bases-loaded jam.
Memphis pitcher Logan Rushing celebrates after escaping a bases-loaded jam.

Memphis went down to Jacksonville, Alabama to take on the Gamecocks in the first series of the Matt Riser era. In a series between new head coaches, Steve Bieser’s squad was able to take two out of three against Matt Riser’s Tigers with two different extra-inning bombs. There were many positives to take away from the first action of Tigers’ baseball, but some inopportune mistakes cost Memphis.

Game 1: Memphis 5 - Jacksonville State 6(13) 

Snapshot: Memphis gives up walk off home run to lose season opener. 

Game 2: Memphis 7 - Jacksonville State 4 

Snapshot: Three different Tigers hit homers to pick up the first win of the season. 

Game 3: Memphis 9 – Jacksonville State 13(10) 

Snapshot: Memphis squanders 9-2 lead in the 8th to lose on walk off grand slam. 

The starting pitching this weekend was superb. David Warren and Caden Robinson had outstanding outings while Luke Ellis and J.T Durham combined for seven strong innings on Saturday. The control was on point with Warren and Robinson combining for just two walks over ten combined innings. Warren, Robinson, Ellis, and Durham were able to rack up seventeen strikeouts over seventeen innings of work showing the strikeout capabilities this staff has. While it's too early to make any sweeping judgments about the quality of the rotation, this was a strong opening series for the Memphis starters.

Memphis’ performance at the plate was also an overall positive. It was evident early on that Memphis was going to be patient with their at-bats and wait for their pitch. The Tigers tallied sixteen walks combined on Saturday and Sunday, and while they only had two walks on Friday, they did force some long at bats for the Gamecocks’ pitchers.

When Memphis swung, they flexed their muscles with fourteen combined extra base hits over the weekend. While other programs may have gaudier numbers over opening weekend, the Tigers showed they can put up big offensive performances.  

One issue that haunted Memphis over the weekend was strikeouts. The Tigers struck out quite a bit on the weekend, including nineteen on Friday. There were some tough pitches taken for strike three this weekend that the players will have wanted back. But overall, this patience at the plate will likely produce positive results for Memphis over the course of the season. 

Fielding was an up and down affair for the Tigers. There were some highlight moments, with the top two being Jonah Sutton catching Logan Walters stealing on Friday to send the game to the 12th inning and Alex Fernandes throwing out the game winning run-on Sunday in the 10th. However, the Tigers also committed three errors and made some mistakes in the field that allowed for the Gamecock runners to take an extra base on fielded balls that helped compound into the series loss from this weekend.

The biggest area of concern from this weekend was the struggles of the bullpen, specifically the blown leads on Friday and Sunday night. The control left a lot to be desired with sixteen walks given up by the Memphis relievers as well as a wild pitch that brought in a crucial run on Friday. It felt that the Gamecocks took control of the plate on Friday and Sunday once the Tigers’ went to the pen, and Memphis was never really able to gain control back of those games afterwards.

After the game on Sunday Coach Riser said, “we've got to learn how to finish,” in relation to the team’s offense but it’s also applicable to the staff being able to close out games when the Tigers offense stalls out. That’s not to say the Tigers weren’t effective at all out of the pen. Seth Gardner gave three strong innings on Friday, Brayden Sanders was solid and got the save Saturday, and others made use of their opportunities this weekend.

Player of the Series: Jacob Compton 4-14, 2 2B, 2 HR, 2 RBI, 2 BB 

 Jacob Compton came into this season with hype, and he delivered on it early with a double in his first at bat since 2022. He was the only Tigers to hit multiple home runs this weekend with homers on Saturday and Sunday.

The Tigers will play five games this week, including four at home. They’ll go on the road to face Arkansas-Little Rock at 3 PM on Tuesday which will be streamed on ESPN+. They’ll face Central Arkansas at 4 PM on Wednesday(non-televised) for the home opener before a three game weekend series against Bowling Green. The Friday game at 4 PM will be shown on ESPN+. All game times can be found on the Memphis Baseball website.  

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