Tigers lose to Jacksonville State 9-2, season comes to an end (UPDATED w/ POST-GAME PC)

CUTrevor 2019-06-03 11:07:09

It was a frustrating, inconsistent season with lots of ups and downs. That was illustrated nicely in the past week, when the Tigers looked great in a 7-1 win over No.7 Louisville and 8-4 over Illinois but terrible in their 6-1 loss to Ole Miss Saturday and 9-2 loss to Jacksonville State Sunday, eliminating them from the tournament and ending their season.

The Tigers' offense was good for the most part this season and had plenty of pop, finishing 6th in the Power Five in HR's, but pitching--especially from the bull pen--was problematic all season. The Tigers gave up far too many walks and it cost them several losses. I think it could have been a different season if they hadn't lost Spencer Strider just before the start of the season. Who knows how many games that might have cost them. Also, losing Kier Meredith to a leg injury in March for the second straight season had an impact. He was the second-leading hitter on the team with a .318 average when he went down, and his speed was a difference-maker on the base paths.

On the bright side, Sharpe and Hennessy started to come on at the end of the season. Sharpe pitched 6 great innings against Illinois in relief the other night and could be dominant next season. If the Tigers get Mat Clark back, they could have a pair of dominant starters. Clark is a redshirt sophomore, so he is eligible for the MLB Draft and could go fairly high because of the season he had. Hopefully for the Tigers, his small stature and will give scouts pause, and he wasn't an overpowering pitcher in terms of velocity or strike outs. Clark was chased from the Ole Miss game in the 4th inning after allowing 3 runs in the 2nd, but in retrospect, Ole Miss is suddenly the hottest offense in the country. The Rebels beat Jacksonville State 19-4 on Sunday night, so they have scored 45 runs against their last 3 opponents other than the Tigers, including an 11-10 loss to top seed Vanderbilt in the SEC Championship Game. The Tigers also have some young pitchers that could develop into very good starters like Askew and Wrobleski. Sam Weatherly is another guy who could compete for a starting spot. He led the team in strike outs per inning but also led the team in walks per inning. If he could start finding the strike zone more often, he could be a big asset next season. However, the Tigers lose their biggest two bats in Davidson and Byrd, who led the team in HR's--Byrd with 16 and Davidson with 15. Davidson is just a junior but will likely go high in the draft. Then again, no one thought they would be able to produce nearly as many HR's as last year after losing Beer and Williams, but they sure came close.

One thing is for sure: the Tigers will have to do a lot of self-scouting and evaluation in the coming months after a disappointing season. At least they made the NCAA Tournament unlike their rival Gamecocks, but that is never the goal for this program. Monte Lee and Coach See will have to take a serious look at the pitching staff and what went so wrong this season if they are going to get back to where they expect to be next year.