Matt Yogus-032811Listen to sports editor Matt Yogus read his latest column.
The biggest story out of the past weekend in Georgia Southern baseball would probably have to be Andy Moye.
Yes, the Eagles took the series on the road against College of Charleston with Friday and Sunday wins.
Yes, the standings aren’t looking half bad right now, with Elon holding a two-game lead and GSU, UNC Greensboro and Samford hanging around the top of the Southern Conference.
And yes, coach Rodney Hennon won his 500th career game.
But for Moye, that one was personal.
He went out there and pitched an eight-strikeout, six-hitter for his first career complete game, and he threw 130 pitches on Sunday after playing third base all weekend.
And that was a start he’d been thinking about for a long, long time.
See, on Easter Sunday, 2010, Moye started a game against those very same Cougars in the very same ballpark. He was tagged with eight runs in 3.1 innings of work, and was on the mound when some extra-curricular celebrations by Rob Kral after a homer got a bit out of control in the fourth inning.
So yeah, he wanted that one, and that’s why the top headline coming out of last weekend was Andy Moye.
Not to take away, of course, from the 500th career win for Hennon.
There are plenty of coaches at the Division I level who have been doing it longer than Hennon and are still hunting for No. 500.
Which is why the Eagles, though 15-10 so far, are in pretty good shape as the season begins hitting its stride.
Back-to-back road trips to Charleston and arguably the SoCon’s biggest surprise, the Samford Bulldogs, resulted in a 3-3 conference record to put the Eagles at 6-3 in the league.
From here on out, the “magic number” as far as I can tell is 23.
It’s nowhere close to official, but it sure looks like, if GSU can go 23-8 in the final two-thirds of the season and finish at 38-18 heading into the conference tournament, it’ll have a mighty good shot at an at-large bid to the NCAA regionals.
All of the high-major mid-week games on the schedule are behind the Eagles, so with 10 non-conference games remaining, it’s not out of the question for GSU to win seven of them.
That means that in the 21 remaining SoCon games, the Eagles would have to find 16 wins.
If they can enter the tournament at 38-18, they’ll still have to do some damage to get to the benchmark of 40 wins, but all of the above-mentioned results would have the Eagles in the driver’s seat for an at-large, especially after already recording high-RPI wins over Georgia Tech, Charleston and, of course, No. 1 Florida.
And obviously, winning the tournament makes all of that stuff moot.
On the flip side of things, while the Eagles have been playing some pretty good baseball, there isn’t much depth out there. Michael Burruss has been pulling duty in the outfield and at designated hitter, and the injury to Scooter Williams has put a ton of pressure on Arthur Owens out there.
Burruss also happens to be the only available backup behind the plate for Tom Richardson, who has started nine-straight games at catcher and will inevitably need a break at some point.
First baseman Steve Cochrane is there as an emergency catcher, but that just points to the lack of depth in the infield, as well. Brent Pugh has been the only extra infielder, and he becomes a starter at third when Moye is on the mound.
That also sheds some light on why there aren’t a whole lot of pinch-hit options.
Staying healthy is obviously key to the everyday guys, and the same could certainly be said for the pitching staff, which still hasn’t established a go-to weekday guy.
Justin Hess will have another shot to solidify that spot today against Jacksonville.
When all is said and done, this team has a shot at a heck of a finish through the meat of the regular-season schedule.
It also has a long way to go before it can even begin thinking about the postseason.
Matt Yogus can be reached at (912) 489-9408.