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Eagles hammer App's bullpen

Eagles hammer App's bullpen

Eagles hammer App's bullpen

Georgia Southern second baseman Ben M...

    Appalachian State held Georgia Southern in check.
    That is, until the Eagles got into the Mountaineers’ bullpen.
    GSU got a pair of two-run singles off Mountaineers relievers Zach Joyce and Sean Mason and held on for a 7-4 win on Friday in the series opener.   
    “It was really big for us to win tonight, especially after opening conference play up at Elon last weekend and losing two games,” catcher Chase Griffin said. "It was big to come out here and get this first one in this three-game series."
    With the Eagles trailing 4-2 in the seventh, Appalachian starter Jamie Nunn walked two and left the game needing one out to get out of the frame.
    Nunn allowed seven scattered hits and only one earned run until that point — a solo homer in the third by GSU designated hitter Garren Palmer — and struck out eight.
    Joyce came in and walked Aaron Mizell on a full count in a lefty-on-lefty matchup, and Stryker Brown (2-for-4) fisted a single into shallow left-center to knot the score at 4-4. Brown advanced to second on the throw.
    That chased Joyce, and ushered in Mason.
    Georgia Southern continued the two-out rally when Griffin laced a grounder past ASU third baseman to drive in Mizell and Brown for the game-winning runs.
    “They were pitching a lot of the guys the same way, throwing sliders from the right-handed pitchers to the right-handed batters,” Griffin said. “I was trying to sit on something in a hitter's count, and he threw me something off speed that I was able to get a barrel on."
    The Eagles (18-5, 2-2 Southern Conference) scrapped another run across in the eighth when Garren Palmer doubled and scored on back-to-back wild pitches.
    Appalachian State (5-15, 0-1) struck first, plating a pair of runs in the first inning when the would-be third out snuck under first baseman Ryan Cleveland’s glove into right field.
    Palmer’s homer cut the ASU lead to 2-1, and the Eagles tied the game in the fifth inning when Garrett Chapman reached with a double off the wall, and scored unearned.
    Palmer attempted to steal third and slid to a stop before reaching the bag, but App’s catcher, Zach Hummell threw the ball way over third baseman William Head’s head, allowing Palmer to touch the dish.
    ASU re-took the lead in the sixth inning. Georgia Southern starting pitcher Sam Howard allowed back-to-back hits to open the frames, but struck out the next two batters to end his day.
    Jason Richman (W, 4-0) gave up a triple that was laced to right-center by Preston Troutman.
    Both runs were credited to Howard, and were his only earned runs allowed. Howard pitched 5.2 strong innings and struck out five. He walked only one batter.
    “Sam did really well,” Griffin said. “It was a tough first inning and a tough way to start the game. He responded really well.”
    Richman struck out four in 2.2 innings, allowing two hits and no walks. Matt McCall picked up his fifth save of the season, recording the final two outs of the game.
    Game two of the three-game series takes place today at 2 p.m.
NOTES: Everyday shortstop Dalton Busby, also the Eagles’ leadoff hitter, didn't play with a sore elbow. He is day-to-day. … Richmond’s appearance marked his team-high 16th trip to the mound through 23 games this season. … Palmer’s homer was the 32nd hit this season by GSU. The Eagles hit 32 in the entire season in 2013. Coming into the game, the Eagles’ 31 homers were tops in the nation.

    Matt Yogus may be reached at (912) 489-4908.

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