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Rocked again

Furman pounds GSU for second straight day

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    The Georgia Southern Eagles gave up a pair of four-run innings to the Furman Paladins on Saturday, proving to be the difference as GSU dropped the second of a three-game series 9-3.
    The Eagles (16-11, 0-2) kept it close until a four-run sixth inning gave the Paladins (7-14, 3-2) a 5-1 advantage. Furman loaded the bases with a hit batter and back-to-back bunts and Paladin designated hitter Tony Maccani ripped a double that drove in three. After a groundout got Maccani to third, a ball-four passed ball allowed him to score.
    “Furman did a nice job executing offensively,” said Georgia Southern head coach Rodney Hennon. “We haven’t done a very good job the last two days in bunt situations (defensively). That has hurt us a little bit, and I think it obviously hurt us today.”
    Eagle reliever Kyle Kamppi was able to retire Furman in order in the top of the seventh, and GSU was able to close the deficit in the bottom of the inning.
    With runners on second and third and one out, Georgia Southern catcher A.J. Wirnsberger hit a high blooper into shallow right field that fell just out of reach of a diving second baseman Marcus Rose. Wirnsberger never stopped,  reaching second base. The two-run double closed the gap to 5-3.
    Furman responded to the Eagle rally by adding four more runs in the top of the eighth inning. A Maccani double brought in Eagle reliever A.J. Battisto, and back-to-back walks loaded the bases for Paladin left fielder Cole Franklin. Franklin pounded a two-run single to right and he advanced to second on a fielding error by Eagle right fielder Mike Economos. Two more runs crossed the plate on a single by Furman shortstop Spence Gibbs.
    Georgia Southern has been sloppy in the field at times during their Southern Conference opening series, while the Paladins have played well in the field.
    “You’ve got to be ready to play every day regardless of who you are playing,” said Hennon. “For whatever reason, we just have not played real well the last two days, and I think Furman has played well. They have just been better than us for two days and we’ve got to find a way to bounce back tomorrow and try to at least salvage a game out of the series.”
    Georgia Southern starter Drew Murray (3-4) got the loss and Paladin pitcher Jay Jackson (1-1) was awarded the win. The loss leaves GSU at the bottom of the Southern Conference standings, while the win puts Furman into a four-way tie for second. The College of Charleston Cougars remain in first with an un-beaten SoCon record.
    Wirnsberger, Jeremiah Parker and Brian Pierce each had a multi-hit game in the loss to the Paladins, and while the Eagles matched Furman’s hit total — both  teams finished with nine hits each — GSU stranded eight runners and could not capitalize in runners-on situations.
    “Right now, we’ve been struggling to score,” Hennon said. “So we are trying to find any way we can to score runs, and we will do whatever we’ve got to do to make some things happen offensively until we can get the bats going again.”
    The Eagles will wrap up the three game series with Furman today at 1:30 p.m. at J.I. Clements Stadium, and will go on the road to take on Georgia Tech for a two-game series starting on Tuesday at 7 p.m.

    Matt Yogus can be reached at (912) 489-9404.
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