Georgia Southern scraped together a pair of runs to send things into extra innings after trailing most of the day, but Elon plated a run in the tenth inning and claimed a 3-2 victory over the Eagles as the Phoenix claimed their second straight game in the series Saturday afternoon at J.I. Clements Stadium.
The play that ultimately won the game for Elon (5-6) was nearly a momentum-shifting play for the Eagles (5-6). With Ty Adcock on second and two outs in the tenth, Zach Evers laced a grounder up the middle. Eagle reliever Chase Cohen got his glove on the ball to prevent what would have been a certain RBI single to center as the ball died in the infield dirt.
Georgia Southern second baseman Steven Curry had no play at first, but picked up the ball and looked to third, where Adcock had taken too large of a turn around the bag. Adcock made a dash for home and Curry’s throw was too high as he slid in for the lead.
The Eagles got a runner on base in the bottom half, but a sinking line drive by Chandler Corley off of Elon closer Jared Wetherbee was run down by Evers in shallow center to finish off the game.
“It’s tough to lose these games,” GS coach Rodney Hennon said. “It’s the little things. We aren’t doing enough of the little things right and those are hurting us.”
Also a main cause of the slow start has been an anemic batting lineup. Injuries have forced Tyler Martin and Austin THompson out of the lineup. The Eagles have used 11 different batting orders in 11 games and have yet to find a good fit as the team is batting a collective .225 on the season.
The lack of offense has left little room for error in the field. Saturday starter Seth Shuman gave up a hit and two walks to load the bases with one out in the top of the second. He coaxed a bouncer from Josh Broughton that could have turned into an inning-ending double play, but GS third baseman Blake Simmons tried to play it off of his hip for a quick turn to second base and a tricky hop sent the ball through into left field as two Phoenix runners crossed the plate.
“We’re not a very confident team right now, and that can lead to getting beat when you don’t do those little things,” Hennon said. “We’ve got a lot of young guys who are trying to find their place. We’re looking for leaders to emerge — especially on the offensive side — and it’s going to be up the the players as far as who settles into more playing time.”
Shuman was lights out from there, ultimately working seven innings and striking out nine while scattering five hits for a no decision that still leaves him unbeaten in his college career.
Georgia Southern appeared to cut the lead in half in the fourth when Roury Glanton smoked a liner down the left field line, but the ball was ruled foul and Elon starter Kyle Brnovich struck out Glanton on the next pitch to end the threat.
The Eagles finally broke through in the fifth when Curry plated Noah Searcy with a two-out double that dropped near the right field line. Jason Swan tied it in the sixth with another two-out hit as he drove in Mitchell Golden to make it 2-2.
Brnovich got out of the inning without any more damage and ended up going seven strong innings, striking out seven while allowing just three hits.
Georgia Southern got the winning run to second base in the ninth when Searcy singled off of Brandon Justice and Jeddediah Fagg bunted Johns Hamilton — who was running for Searcy — into scoring position. But Whetherbee emerged from the bullpen and ended the threat by getting Curry to fly out to right and the Phoenix sealed the deal in the first extra frame.
Georgia Southern will try to salvage the final game of the series today, with first pitch scheduled for 1 p.m. The Eagles will send freshman right-hander David Johnson to the hill, who has yet to allow an earned run in 11 innings pitched over two starts.