BASH BROTHERS: JSU overwhelms Queens with its biggest hitting night in seven years

Mar. 17—JACKSONVILLE — Jacksonville State kept the batboy busy Friday night.

On a frigid wet night that kept folks away from the ballpark, the Gamecocks' bats boiled over. JSU ripped 24 hits in a 14-1 home win over Queens, and that's the team's most hits since it had 31 at Belmont in 2016.

JSU was stopped short of trying for more Friday, as the game ended after the top of the seventh because of the ASUN's 10-run mercy rule, sending the announced crowd of 417 home earlier than usual. The Gamecocks scored nine in the sixth inning alone, which is its most prolific output in one inning since scoring 13 in the seventh at Eastern Illinois in 2014.

"I was proud that everybody was ready to go," said fifth-year senior Carson Crowe, who went 3-for-4 with a double. "Every single person was locked in, doing what they had to do and sacrificing what they wanted to do, and doing it for the team."

The Gamecocks did it all against the same pitcher: senior Daniel Bagwell (0-1), who worked all six innings and saw his ERA balloon from 5.84 to 8.80. One plus in his favor: he didn't walk a batter.

It could've been worse. In the early innings, JSU grounded into two double plays and had two runners thrown out at second base trying to grab an extra base.

It wasn't like Bagwell hasn't had any success this year. Ten days earlier, he went 8 2/3 innings and allowed only two runs in a 10-inning loss to 10th-ranked Eastern Carolina.

"Unbelievable," JSU coach Jim Case said, pointing out that eight of JSU's nine starters had at least two hits.

One didn't — third baseman Brennen Norton, who had one hit, but Case called it the biggest of the night. In the bottom of the fifth, JSU led only 2-0, but Norton's two-out double drove in two runs. Will Fincher followed with an RBI single to finish a three-run inning. From there, it was all JSU, as the hitters poured on runs, and pitching ace AJ Causey held Queens in check.

"If Brennen doesn't do that, who knows what happens? Momentum was never able to get on their side," Case said. "We scored the three runs, and once it became 5-0 ... it's going to be hard to score five off of Causey. You felt the game was in good hands."

All the offense overshadowed an efficient night by Causey (1-0). He needed only 78 pitches to complete seven innings. He struck out three and allowed only three hits and a walk. His ERA dropped to 3.66.

"Everytime AJ gets on the mound, he's going to be a dog," Crowe said. "He's going to give you everything he has, even if he doesn't have his best stuff, he's going to give you every single bit of heart he has, and you see that every Friday."

This game was the ASUN opener, and it came at the right time for JSU (8-10), which appears to have found its footing. After a tough start to the season, the Gamecocks have won four straight, including Tuesday night's upset of third-ranked Ole Miss.

"I think this has been coming," Case said. "Things have been turning. It hasn't always worked out for us, but I think things have been turning in the right direction. We've had some really hard losses where I thought we played pretty good. To get two wins against South Alabama, to get one against Ole MIss and to swing the bats this way, you feel like things are about to get rolling."

What to know

—Javon Hernandez had his second straight four-hit game. He is 13-for-21 in his last five games, which has improved his batting average from .222 to .333.

—JSU catcher Bear Madliak was 4-for-5, and since moving to the leadoff spot in the batting order in the last five games, he is 15-for-26 with five doubles.

—Michael Dallas went 3-for-4 after going 2-for-21 in the last seven games.

—Mason Maners was 2-for-5 and has reached base in his last 30 games, dating back to last year. That's the fourth longest active streak in the country. T.J. Reeves was 3-for-4 with a single, a double, a triple and three RBIs. He has reached base in all 18 games this season.

Who said

—Case on what Friday's big night does for some players who had struggled at the plate: "It's kind of like taking medicine sometimes, because so much of this game is mental. It'll beat you up sometimes. You can do the right thing, and sometimes it doesn't work out. Tonight was one of those where we had some guys with really good approaches, and it really worked out."

—Crowe on the four-game win streak: "We knew in the beginning, even when we weren't winning a lot, we knew what we had as a team, as ballclub, as a pitching staff, as hitters. We knew what we had; we couldn't put it all together at one time. What I'm seeing now these last four games is everybody's hopes are still high, and now we're putting everything together."

Next up

—JSU will face Queens (3-14), which was picked in the preseason to finish last in the 14-team ASUN Conference, two more times before the Royals head home to North Carolina. Saturday's game is set for 3 p.m., and Sunday's series finale will be at 1 p.m.

Senior Editor Mark Edwards: 256-235-3570. On Twitter: @MarkSportsStar.