The Georgia Southern baseball team finished the season in style as they swept the U.T. Arlington Mavericks in their final series of the regular season. The Eagles took game one Thursday 5-3, took the second game 18-9 and then finished the third game, which was started Friday evening and completed Saturday morning, with a 12-1 victory.
“I’m so proud of the guys and how they finished things off this weekend,” said Eagle coach Rodney Hennon. “Having to stop the game yesterday and then pick it up today our guys did a great job of staying focused. It was good to see some of our seniors finish off on a good note at home with a good crowd out here.”
The sweep ends the regular season for Georgia Southern with a record of 38-17 overall and a 23-7 record in the Sun Belt Conference which was good enough to earn them the No. 2 seed in this week’s Sun Belt tournament. The 38 wins is the most since the Eagles won 42 in 2009, and that team won 38 in the regular season as well.
“We are feeling great but we know the tournament means it’s like a new opening day for us,” said Eagle fifth year senior Austin Thompson. “We have to go up there and handle business like we have done all year. I think we are playing good baseball and the team is looking forward to the challenge.”
The Eagles have done pretty well on the mound, but it’s been the offense leading the way over the past couple weeks. In their last 10 games the Eagles have scored over 150 runs. Because of that the Eagles have had a chance to get plenty of non-starters playing time which Hennon feels could come in handy in the postseason.
“Lately we have been able to get a lot of guys involved,” said Hennon. “We have gotten guys at bats that we are going to need this week in the tournament. The fact that they have been able to get some at bats in some good situations and stay in the flow should help us this week.”
Georgia Southern just wrapped up their highest home attendance average in school history with 1,822 per game and second highest total attendance ever at 54,684. Those numbers bode well as they have already posted a bid to host the NCAA Regionals which would be the first time in school history if awarded.
“That would be amazing if we could be able to come back here and play again,” said Eagle fifth year senior Jason Swan. “We have been able to have some great crowds this year and we would have to pack J.I. Clements again if that happens.”
“Certainly, that would be special if it happened,” said Hennon. “We have to focus on the things we can control and that is going out and playing as hard as we can play every day. We can’t get caught up in the things that are out of our control we just have to do what we can to give ourselves the best chance to win.”
The Eagles open the Sun Belt tournament Tuesday against a yet to be determined team. The Eagles will face off Wednesday at 12:30 in Montgomery Alabama.
“In order to make a run in the tournament it takes everybody,” said Hennon. “It has to be a collective team effort. You have to have different guys step up on different days. It may be cliché but, in our sport, more than most you literally have to take it one pitch at a time and one game at a time. We are excited about the opportunity to go to Montgomery and are looking forward to competing on Wednesday.”
The Eagles have advanced to the Sun Belt Championship in four of the last five championships but haven’t been able to break through for a title since their final year in the Southern Conference in 2014.
“I feel like this team is different because we are just relentless,” said Eagle fifth year senior Christian Avant. “No matter what the circumstances are we are going to keep fighting. We are never out of it and that is what I love about this team and our guys. I feel like this is just a great team and the team that can do it.”