LAFAYETTE, La. — Georgia Southern began its Sun Belt Conference tournament with three straight singles and a 1-0 lead, but that was the high-water mark for the day.
The Eagles found themselves trailing South Alabama 4-2 after two innings of play and - while they stayed close - could never get back in front as they fell 5-3 Wednesday morning.
With the loss, the Eagles (29-25) move into the tournament's loser's bracket. Georgia Southern will face UT Arlington in an elimination game at 10 a.m. today and, with an at-large bid to the NCAA regionals out of the picture, will have to win five straight if it wants to keep its season alive.
Wednesday started well enough as Jason Swan, Mitchell Golden and Austin Thompson gave South Alabama starter Tyler Carr an early wakeup call with three consecutive singles, Thompson's hit bringing Swan in to score. But Carr bounced back to retire the next three Eagle batters and limit the damage.
Chase Cohen took the mound for the Eagles as scheduled starter Brian Eichhorn was still not ready to go after leaving his final regular season start with an apparent arm injury. Travis Swaggerty reached with one out in the first when Jason Swan handled a grounder to first, only to fire wide to a covering Cohen.
Cohen notched a second out before surrendering a single and a walk to load the bases. A grounder up the middle by Paul Russo should have ended the threat, but Steven Curry flipped high to Thompson at second as Swaggerty scored. Cohen then walked Hunter Stokes to give USA the early 2-1 lead.
Georgia Southern tied things up in the second on a sacrifice fly by Swan, only to dig themselves another hole in the bottom half.
Once again beginning a rally with a man on first and two outs, the Jaguars' Dylan Hardy stole second and advanced to third on a wild pitch as Brendan Donovan drew a walk.
Cohen got Carter Perkins to hit a weak pop-up off the end of his bat, but it was perfectly placed and dropped into shallow left field. The ball hit Thompson as he made a sprawling over-the-shoulder attempt and Donovan never slowed up, scoring from first to make it a 4-2 USA lead.
Martin got one back for the Eagles with an RBI double in the third, but that was as close as Georgia Southern got. Carr danced around nine hits over five innings of work before Chase Lambert faced just one batter over the minimum in three innings of relief.
South Alabama plated an insurance run via wild pitch in the eighth inning and Zach Greene worked a perfect ninth to pick up the save and drive the Eagles to the brink of elimination.
Cohen pitched well following the early USA rallies, but a disciplined Jaguar batting order and six walks allowed by Cohen forced him from the game afeter 97 pitches in just 4.1 innings.
Cole Whitney went the rest of the way on the mound for the Eagles.
Georgia Southern will be the first team on the field once again this morning as it squares off against UT Arlington with both teams facing elimination.
The Mavericks were run-ruled by tournament top seed Coastal Carolina in Wednesday's second game.
The Eagles still hope that Eichhorn will be able to contribute to the cause. If he is unable to go, Georgia Southern will likely turn to sophomore Seth Shuman for today's start.
Today's game can be viewed on ESPN+ and can be heard on the Georgia Southern Radio Network.