At first pitch of Friday night’s game in Statesboro, the temperature in Boone, N.C. was 45 degrees, with snow showers and highs in the mid-30s forecast for the next two days.
So regardless of any inconvenience, bot Appalachian State and Georgia Southern had to be happy that the scheduled Sun Belt Conference series was moved south to Statesboro.
The Eagles (10-11, 3-1 Sun Belt) made the most of their first of three extra home games. The Georgia Southern bats did just enough and junior righty Brian Eichhorn turned in a career effort as the Eagles claimed a 2-0 victory Friday night at J.I. Clements Stadium.
For the second consecutive Friday night, Eichhorn came up big in the opening game of a weekend series. Eichhorn pitched around a first inning error, got a couple of clutch defensive stops behind him, and powered through eight strong innings to earn his second consecutive win.
“I had the same approach as last week,” Eichhorn said. “It was nice to be at home and to be in short sleeves, but it was the same approach. I just tried to focus on each pitch and try to get outs and put us in a spot where we could win.”
With Appalachian State (5-14, 0-4) trailing 2-0, Jason Avers led off the seventh with a double, but Eichhorn struck out Riley Smith before coaxing a pair of foul outs to end the threat. The Eagle bullpen was warming up at that point, but Eichhorn trotted back out for the eighth inning.
The final 14 of his 119 pitches struck out the side as all three Mountaineers were caught looking.
“I knew that I just wanted to keep going,” Eichhorn said. “I knew that we had guys ready to come in (to relieve), but my focus was just to keep making pitches and getting outs.”
Andrew Vaccacio opposed Eichhorn on Friday and threw nearly as well, but the Eagle offense was able to capitalize where Appalachian State couldn’t.
Where Alex Leshock reached on an error - but was stranded - to lead off Friday’s game, Mitchell Golden raked a two-out single in the bottom of the second inning, stole second and advanced to third on an error, then raced home while Christian Avant drew out a rundown to put the Eagles up 1-0.
Vaccacio matched Eichhorn for much of the night, but he dealt a leadoff walk to Steven Curry in the bottom of the sixth and Curry was brought home on a two-out double by Mason McWhorter to stake the Eagles to a 2-0 advantage.
“We got an outstanding effort by Eichhorn in a game that was well-pitched on both sides,” GS coach Rodney Hennon said. “We’ve got to find ways to win until we can get the bats going. Mitchell had a big stolen base to set up a run and then Mason gets a two-out hit. That’s what we need right now.”
Chase Cohen emerged from the Georgia Southern bullpen in the ninth inning, striking out a pair and needing just 11 pitches to notch his fifth save of the season.
The Eagles and Mountaineers will wrap up their series a bit early as projected bad weather on Sunday has resulted in a doubleheader being scheduled for today. The first pitch of the first game is scheduled for 4 p.m., with the second game beginning 45 minutes after the end of the first.