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Eagles keep hitting, hold on late

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Posted: May 2, 2008 11:32 p.m.
Updated: May 17, 2008 5:00 a.m.
    The Citadel Bulldogs came to Statesboro with the Southern Conference’s best pitching staff, but even they couldn’t slow down Georgia Southern’s blistering offense.
    The Eagles won for the seventh straight time Friday, slugging their way past their league foe for an emotional and action-packed 17-13 win at J.I. Clements Stadium.
    “When we play The Citadel, it’s always a big rivalry,” said GSU reliever Blake Nation, who tossed a scoreless eighth and ninth. “I’m not sure where it started, but it’s usually pretty intense.”
    The Eagles were cruising in the sixth when Chris Shehan’s 16th home run easily cleared the pine trees in left to push GSU’s lead to 17-7, but things got interesting in the seventh. The Bulldogs pulled within four by battering GSU’s bullpen for six runs during the frame, included Sonny Meade’s three-run homer.
    Controversy came when the Eagles appeared to have Bulldog catcher Richard Jones out as he slid into home on a wild pitch, which would have ended the inning. But the umpires called him safe, prompting a heated argument from Georgia Southern coach Rodney Hennon, who was tossed and will have to sit out today’s game per conference rules.
    Nation helped the Eagles (27-18, 11-8) regroup from The Citadel’s big seventh inning by shutting down the Bulldogs the rest of the way.
    “I just stayed calm — I knew I could beat them,” Nation said.
    Griffin Benedict, Brian Pierce and Ty Wright had three hits each to pace GSU’s 19-hit attack, while Jeremiah Parker, A.J. Wirnsberger, Jeremy Beckham and Shehan added two hits apiece.
    The Bulldogs (23-22, 11-11), who dropped their fifth straight, cranked out 13 hits thanks to right fielder Meade, who was 5-for-6 with a career-high six RBIs.
    Junior Drew Murray picked up the win and improved to 7-1, allowing seven earned runs and 10 hits over six innings. He struck out four and walked five. Matt Crim (5-5) took the loss, giving up seven earned runs in just two innings.
    GSU fell in an early 4-0 hole but rallied for five runs in the second to take the lead for good when Wright’s three-run bomb sailed over the fence in left to put the Eagles on top 5-2.
    Georgia Southern picked up steam two innings later, plating six runs after the Bulldogs walked and balked in a pair of runs, Wirnsberger knocked an RBI groundout and David Richardson, Pierce and Wright added run-scoring singles.
    Junior right hander Kyle Kamppi (4-2) will take the mound for the Eagles in today’s 6 p.m. game, and junior righty Wes Wrenn (4-5) will go for The Citadel.
Notes: Wright was named the SoCon’s offensive player of the month for April Friday…Richardson extended his hitting streak to 11 games…A Clements Tailgate is scheduled for today at 4 p.m., two hours before first pitch. The event is free and open to the public…On Sunday, children ages 14 and under will be admitted free with a paid adult. During the game, GSU officials will accept donations to support Bulloch County’s Joseph’s Home for Boys, which benefits local children in need...Bulldog Chris Swauger has 302 career hits, the most by an active SoCon player and tied for six-most all-time.

    Alex Pellegrino can be reached at (912) 489-9413.

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