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Ospreys down Eagles

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Ospreys down Eagles

Georgia Southern third baseman Brent Pugh makes an unsuccessful dive at a base hit by North Florida's Shane Kennedy in the third Wednesday at Clements Stadium.

North Florida small-balled its way to four runs in the first three innings, and that was enough to get the job done in Georgia Southern’s 7-3 loss Wednesday in J.I. Clements Stadium.

The Ospreys (20-14) got their leadoff runner on base and across the plate in each of the first three innings.

Alex Hernandez walked to lead off the game, and took second on a passed ball from a pitch by GSU (20-14) starter Josh Adams.

Hernandez scored on back-to-back ground balls.

North Florida made it 2-0 in the second when Adams hit Alex Bacon with the first pitch of the inning. Two consecutive grounders got Bacon to third, and he scored on an RBI double by Kyle Dahl.

"A leadoff walk and passed ball leads to a run, then a hit batsman in the second inning," said GSU coach Rodney Hennon. "You put yourself behind the eight ball right out of the gate and you give a team life, and it’s tough to play that way."

North Florida extended the gap with two runs in each of the third and fifth innings.

The scoring happened nearly the exact-same way in each inning. Hernandez grounded out to shortstop Ben Morgan each time, followed by back-to-back singles by Shane Kennedy and Andrew Karmeris.

In both the third and the fifth, those singles were followed by Evan Stermer groundouts to first. The only difference in the scoring was a Kennedy stolen base and an Adams balk that kept the innings from being identical.

The Georgia Southern offense, which spread around seven hits on the night, didn’t put anything together until the seventh inning, when Stryker Brown, who got the start at second base, hit his first collegiate home run to drive in Brent Pugh and cut the UNF lead to 6-2.

Brown took over for Morgan at second, who was playing shortstop in place of Eric Phillips, the designated hitter for the evening. Brown led the GSU offense with three hits.

"He had a few big hits for us," Hennon said. "That’s the case with a lot of these young guys. The more they get out here, the more comfortable they’re going to get. He certainly gave us a spark tonight."

Victor Roache (2-for-2, 2 BB) hit his second homer in as many nights in the eighth inning to cut it to 6-3. Roache extended his season long-ball total to a Southern Conference high 15.

"We battled back in the end and got a few big hits to kind of put ourselves back in it," said Hennon. "Overall they just played nine innings better than we did."

The Ospreys tacked on an insurance run in the top of the ninth when Tyler Marincov became the fourth UNF player to lead off an inning with a free pass. He took second on a sacrifice bunt, stole third and scored on a sacrifice fly.

The last chance for the Eagles ended with two on and one out in the bottom of the ninth when Shawn Payne grounded to third for a double play.

Adams (5-5) took the loss, allowing four runs in 2.2 innings. At the end of the day, the Eagles used five pitchers.

The winning pitcher was UNF’s Tommy Organ, who faced seven batters, allowing one hit in two innings of work. The Ospreys ran seven pitchers to the mound in the game.

Georgia Southern, which has played five-straight non-conference games, returns to SoCon play Friday in the first of a three-game set against Western Carolina at 6 p.m. in Cullowhee, N.C.


Matt Yogus can be reached at (912) 489-9408.

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