Fowler, Bishop Lift Gamecocks Over Kennesaw State
JACKSONVILLE — Zachary Fowler told his Jacksonville State teammates one last thing before taking the mound Saturday against Kennesaw State:
“Give me one run and I’ve got y’all for the rest of the game.”
It was pretty bold considering he was 0-1 with an ERA approaching eight and that the Owls had hammered the Gamecocks’ pitchers the day before.
Even so, Fowler was true to his word. The junior right-hander’s seven-inning, seven-strikeout, one-hit performance propelled the Gamecocks to a 1-0 win. The two teams will wrap up their three-game series today at 1 p.m. at Rudy Abbott Field.
“My biggest focus today, after two not-so-great starts, I wanted to come out and compete for my team and give us the best chance to win — especially after yesterday,” Fowler said. “It wasn’t really a pretty day for us. It was a good job by our hitters in the first inning to scratch one off.”
The Gamecocks (5-4) did not fall into the same trap they did the day before when they were swamped 10-1, outhit 16-7 and fell behind 5-1 after two innings. On Saturday, they drew first blood in the first inning and forced the Owls (7-5) to play from behind.
Senior outfielder Michael Bishop continued his aggressive approach at the plate and on the bases. He took the second pitch he saw down the left-field line. Bishop rounded first at full speed and hustled into second base for a lead-off double.
“I’m pretty fast,” Bishop said, “but that’s something I always try to do and our team always tries to do — pressure the defense. The more you pressure them the more mistakes they make.
“That guy made a mistake. He was kind of lollygagging the ball so I decided to push it and see if he could make a throw.”
After advancing to third on Josh Bobo’s groundout, Bishop scored the lone run of the game when Griff Gordon’s grounder to third proved too much for Owls third baseman Jeremy Howell to handle.
“Who knows, at that time, that’s the game,” JSU head coach Jim Case said. “It just shows, in this game you never know when it’s going to be a big time. That was huge by Michael (Bishop). Huge hustle double.”
The Gamecocks only managed two more hits the rest of the game. Bishop doubled to left field again in the third and Ryan Sebra’s single in the seventh.
Michael Mason and Conner Metcalf split pitching duties in the eighth and did not give up a hit. Mason gave up a leadoff walk to Howell, but after the runner got all the way to third, Metcalf came on and retired the side.
Travis Stout took the mound in the ninth inning and recorded two strikeouts for his third save of the season.