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KSU holds off late Eagle rally, GSU falls 7-4

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    Georgia Southern held Kennesaw State to just four hits — all in the third inning — but the Owls scored seven runs that frame and held on for a 7-4 win Sunday afternoon at the Eagle Invitational, held at J.I. Clements Stadium. The Eagles (11-7) doubled up KSU on hits but stranded 12 runners.
    Kennesaw State (7-6) put the leadoff runner on in each of the first three innings. In the third the Owls
were finally able to take advantage, thanks in part to three walks and a hit batter. Andrew Martin was hit by
John Ducey. Matt Hopkins doubled down the left field line to score Martin. Ducey walked the next two
batters to load the bases. Matt Dallas followed with a 2-run single for an early 3-0 lead.
    Ducey struck out Adam Cross on a called third strike, but after a fourpitch walk to Jay Morrow Eagles’ coach Rodney Hennon went to the bullpen for David Cogswell. Jace Whitmer cleared the bases with a double into the right field gap, just out of the reach of a diving Mike Economos,
    Zack Upton singled to put runners on the corners. Martin dropped down a safety squeeze bunt, which
allowed Whitmer to score and cap the seven run frame. Starting with the bunt, Cogswell retired the last
eight batters he faced as the Eagle bullpen did not allow a hit the rest of the game.
    A two out rally in the fourth got Georgia Southern on the board. Kyle Huckathorn (1-0) hit Griffin  Benedict. Phillip Porter singled through the left side then Brian Pierce
cleared the bases thanks to his first double of the season.
    Benedict reached on a leadoff walk in the sixth and eventually scored on an RBI groundout from Jeremy
    Beckham was hit by a pitch to start the bottom of the ninth. He took second on pitcher Justin Freeman’s
throwing error over to first base, then third base on a balk by Freeman. A.J. Wirnsberger’s groundout made
it 7-4.
    Chris Shehan extended his hitting streak to 14 games, matching his personal-high from last year, on a single up the middle. He advanced to second on a groundout then went to third on Economos’ single. The Owls brought in Kody Paul from the bullpen. Benedict fouled off the first pitch down the left field line, but Morrow was able to make a shoestring catch up against
the fence to end the game.
    “It’s a lot harder to hit when you’re down seven runs. We shot ourselves in the foot with base on
balls, we gave them too many free passes. During that seven run inning we gave them three walks and hit a batter. You cannot make those mistakes,” said head coachRodney Hennon. “To Kennesaw State’s credit they capitalized on our mistakes. They pitched well enough to hang on and win… One positive for us is the way our bullpen came in and pitched. We’ll go back to work this week and start getting ready for a big weekend.”
    Porter matched his career-high with three hits in the game. Beckham added two hits as the Eagles held an 8-4 advantage. Drew Murray pitched three hitless innings of relief, walking two
and striking out four. Kyle Kamppi pitched a scoreless ninth inning.
    Ducey (2-2), who entered the game with a 0.98 ERA, allowed six runs on two hits in 2.2 innings. He walked four and struck out two.
    Heckathorn was charged for three runs on four hits in five innings. He walked four and fanned five.
In the earlier game, Kennesaw State took advantage of eight Brown errors to win 11-6. The Bears fell to 1-3 on the weekend. Martin Baker had four hits, two runs scored and two RBI for the Owls.
Cross, Whitmer, Martin and Tyler Stubblefield had two hits apiece. KSU held a 15-7 edge on six hits in five innings of work. Jeff Dietz (0-1) suffered the loss. He gave up five runs, just two earned, on nine hits in five innings. Ryan Murphy and Bryan Tews had two hits apiece for the Bears.
    Starting Friday, the Eagles travel to Conway, S.C. for the Myrtle Beach
Hyndai-Isuzu Classic, hosted by Coastal Carolina. Georgia Southern opens play against
Ball State at noon.
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