Jags' hopes are still alive

After taking a swing in the ninth inning Thursday, Alex Sickman felt tingling on the back side of his left hand.


The Augusta State sophomore catcher showed off his taped swollen thumb after the Jaguars' 8-6 nonconference win over Erskine. He can't explain why it's injured. Doesn't want to know.

"It hurts," he said. "We're just trying to play through it."

On Senior Day, Augusta State's players showed they're still battling. With six games left in the regular season, the Jaguars (22-27) are two games back in the chase for sixth place in the Peach Belt Conference standings. The top six teams advance to the league tournament in May in Aiken.

"We've got a lot of energy left," said senior right fielder Matt Debes, who recorded a double and three RBI in his first start of the season. "We're still hungry. We want to be in the mix for the postseason."

In what is expected to be his final home game, Jaguars outfielder Shannon Wilkerson hit his 19th home run of the season, sparking a two-run fifth inning which put the Jaguars ahead for good.

Wilkerson, who likely will get selected in June's Major League Baseball Draft, caught the last out of the game -- a fly ball to deep right. He pocketed the ball for a souvenir.

Augusta State coach Skip Fite employed an eight-pitcher strategy against Erskine, with only Adam Mathis pitching more than one inning. The move worked.

Carl Burrow (1-1) pitched one inning and picked up the win. Tony Baker tossed a scoreless ninth to record his first save.

In the eighth, Augusta State right-hander Patrick Lowe got into a jam but escaped harm-free. He loaded the bases with two outs only to strike out Keith Hill.

The Jaguar pitching staff scattered eight hits, struck out five and walked five.

"I knew our guys needed a little bit of a fresh arm," Fite said. "I think it gave our pitching staff a shot of confidence going into this weekend."

Augusta State, which had 11 hits against Erskine, plays a three-game set starting Saturday at Armstrong Atlantic State.

"This team's biggest deal is when we put it all together we're great," Wilkerson said. "Today, we played as a team."

Reach Chris Gay at (706) 823-3645 or chris.gay@augustachronicle.com.



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