Before the sun had risen on Tuesday, Georgia Southern freshman Seth Shuman was already awake and looking forward to another day under center as a prospective starting quarterback for the 2017 Eagle football team.
By the time the sun had set on Wednesday, Shuman was in his baseball uniform, well on the way to earning his third win in as many starts as Georgia Southern squeaked out a 1-0 victory over The Citadel at J.I. Clements Stadium.
Shuman set the tone for the Eagles. The lanky righty didn’t face much trouble in his five innings of work, allowing just two hits and a walk while striking out six.
“The biggest aspect (of juggling two sports) is just taking care of my arm,” Shuman said. “I went through practice yesterday and then had to flip the switch. I threw a few pitches (Tuesday night). The baseball definitely feels a little smaller, but it’s muscle memory and just trying to execute a pitching plan.”
“It tells you what kind of competitor he is,” GS coach Rodney Hennon said of Shuman. “Not just anyone can do that. It says a lot about his mindset and he gave us a great effort tonight.”
The win clinched a midweek sweep for the Eagles (12-9) over their former Southern Conference rivals after claiming a Tuesday night victory in Charleston.
The game’s only run was recorded in the bottom of the fourth inning off of Citadel starter Zach Taglieri. The Bulldog right-hander struck out Ryan Cleveland and Jordan Wren to set up what appeared to be a smooth inning of work, but then issued a walk to Mason McWhorter.
McWhorter stole second, putting him in position to score when designated hitter Cameron Hankins blooped a single into shallow left.
“Everyone pitched well tonight,” Shuman said. “We got a hit that counted. After that, we played great defense and the relief pitchers did their job.”
Connor Simmons and Eric Goldstein combined to work through the sixth and seventh innings for the Eagles. Anthony Paesano worked a perfect eighth and Landon Hughes notched his second save of the season in the ninth,
Seeing Shuman answering questions about his night, the Eagle closer brought some comic relief to the postgame festivities.
“Gotta talk to the freshman,” Hughes joked. “But he deserves it. It’s crazy what (Shuman) does, working from one sport to the next and helping us to win this one.”
“I’m just bridging the gap to get to you,” Shuman joked back.
The only thing not worth laughing about on Wednesday was another shaky performance from the Georgia Southern batting order.
The Eagles connected for key hits during Tuesday’s win in Charleston, but recorded just three hits and struck out 18 times, clinging to an outstanding pitching performance and Hankins’ two-out RBI hit to provide the difference.
Georgia Southern also continued another lingering issue, leaving five runners on base throughout the night including two left in scoring position after seeing two of the first three batters reach in the first inning.
“They came right at us,” Hennon said. “We have to do a better job of competing and taking some good swings. That’s not acceptable.”
Georgia Southern is happy to have the pair of midweek wins, but the stakes will be higher this weekend as the Eagles head out to Texas for their first road Sun Belt series of the season at UT Arlington.
“It’s going to be a battle every game,” Hennon said. “We’ve got to play a little bit more like we’re fighting for our lives.
“We played today like we played on Sunday (a 5-0 loss to South Alabama). We have to play with some more urgency, moving forward.”
The Eagles will play three games in Arlington and will travel to the College of Charleston for a midweek game next week before returning to J.I. Clements for a home series against UL Monroe next weekend.
Mike Anthony may be reached at (912) 489-9408