CHARLESTON, ILL (WIAT) – The Jacksonville State Gamecocks won their first round OVC Tournament game on Wednesday 5-3 over Eastern Kentucky. The sixth-seeded Gamecocks (27-25) advanced to the winner’s bracket of the double-elimination tournament behind the hitting of Kelci Johnston and pitching of Tiffany Harbin.
EKU (34-19) was the tournament’s third-seed. Jacksonville State moves on to face the winner between No.2 SIU Edwardsville & No.6 Tennessee Tech. The game will start Thursday at 12:30 pm.
Here’s a detailed recap of the game provided by JSU Sports Information:
CHARLESTON, Ill. – Kelci Johnston homered and drove in three runs and Tiffany Harbin struck out nine to left the Jacksonville State softball team to a 5-3 win over Eastern Kentucky in the first round of the Ohio Valley Conference Tournament on Wednesday.
The sixth-seeded Gamecocks (27-25) answered a three-run fourth from the third-seeded Colonels (34-19) with a three-run rally in the sixth and advanced into the winner’s bracket of the eight-team, double-elimination tournament. JSU will play Thursday at 12:30 p.m. against the winner of Wednesday’s game between No. 2 SIU Edwardsville and No. 6 Tennessee Tech.
Johnston, a native of Northport, Ala., went 2-for-4 with a two-run double in the third and a solo homer in the sixth that erased a 3-2 EKU lead and tied the game. Jax State used the momentum from Johnston’s tying homer to start a two-out game-winning rally in the sixth.
Harbin (14-13), a native of Hazel Green, Ala., earned her first win since April 7 by allowing one of the league’s top offenses just three runs, two earned, on six hits in her 16th complete game of the season. The win give her 56 in her career and ties Ashley Eliasson for second in JSU history. She struck out nine batters to run her school-record total to 675, including a stretch of six in a row early in the game.
EKU ace and All-OVC pitcher Leanna Pittsenbarger (20-9) suffered the loss after giving up five runs, three earned, on eight hits in six innings in the circle. Shaylon Robb tossed the final frame for EKU allowing a walk.
EKU scattered its six hits throughout the lineup, with Christina Ciolek picking up the Colonels’ two RBI.
The Gamecocks put runners on in each of the first three innings and finally pushed a pair across in the third to give JSU a 2-0 lead. With two outs in the inning, Johnston lined Pittsenbarger’s 3-2 pitch off of the wall in left to score Savannah Sloan and Jessica Guy to put the Gamecocks on the board.
The Colonels took advantage of an opportunity in their half of the fourth, getting a two-out double from Ciolek to tie the game at 2-2. She then scored when Lauren Mitchell pop fly to short was dropped to give EKU its first lead of the day at 3-2.
Johnston struck again in the sixth, this time to lead off the Gamecocks half of the inning. She got under Pittsenbarger’s 2-0 pitch and watched it carry over the wall in left to tie the score at 3-3. It was her second round tripper in less than a week and the 22nd of her career, tying her for 12th in school history on the career home runs list.
The scoring didn’t stop there, however. The Gamecocks mounted a two-out rally in the sixth, starting with Crawford’s second hit of the day, a line drive single to left. Freshman Denes and Ruth followed with their back-to-back doubles and put the Gamecocks in front, 5-3.
Harbin held on from that point allowing just one baserunner over the final two innings to advance the Gamecocks into the second round.