Jacksonville State got a two-run home run in the top of the 11th inning to break a 5-5 tie and handed Murray State a series opening loss Friday night at Reagan Field, 7-5.

The Racers (14-11, 5-5 OVC) got off to another fast start for the third consecutive game as Davis Sims delivered a two-out, two-RBI single up the middle in the bottom of the first to give MSU the early lead. A solo home run from Jack Hranec with two down in the sixth pushed the Racer lead to 3-0 before the Gamecocks (13-10, 3-4 OVC) were able to tie the game in the top of the seventh with a three-run inning.

JSU was then able to take its first lead of the contest in the eighth with a pair of runs, making the score 5-3. In the bottom of the ninth, Adam Bauer got a sacrifice fly to right field to cut the MSU deficit to 5-4 and in the next at bat, Brandon Gutzler delivered an RBI single up the middle with two outs to tie the game at 5-5. Both of MSU’s runs in the inning were unearned thanks to a pair of JSU errors in the field.

Dalton Etheridge did the damage in the 11th for the Gamecocks as he went 2-for-2 in the game as he came on as a pinch hitter in the ninth. MSU had chances to lengthen its lead in the middle innings but left eight runners stranded on base in the loss and hit into two double plays.

Tyler Lawrence was the only Racer to have a multi-hit game on the night as he went 2-for-5 and is now just three hits from passing Wes Cunningham for the most career hits in program history. Gutzler went 1-of-3 with a pair of walks in the loss with Sims going 1-of-4 with the two ribbies.

Ryan Dills pitched well in the no decision as he went 6.1 innings and allowed three runs on four hits while striking out six batters. Chance Carner, Chad Gendron, John Lollar and Derrik Watson all appeared in relief on the night. Watson took the loss as he walked the eventual game-winning run on Etheridge’s homer. Watson went 2.1 innings and allowed just the one hit and the one walk while recording three strikeouts. Lollar pitched 0.2 innings and allowed the homer.

Game two of the series between the Racers and Gamecocks will be Saturday at 2 p.m., in Murray.

by Kevin DeVries

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