Following a midweek loss at the College of Charleston, Georgia Southern turned in an eerily similar performance in the first game of a three-game set against Elon in a 4-2 loss Friday night at J.I. Clements Stadium.
Another solid starting pitching effort was wasted by the Eagles (5-5) as the batting order – admittedly hampered by injuries – couldn’t put up much of a fight.
Georgia Southern rallied for a pair of runs in the bottom of the sixth after Elon (4-6) had plated the first two runs in the top half. But the Phoenix regained the lead in the seventh and picked up another in the eighth for the 4-2 win.
Adding insult to injury, Elon reliever Robbie Welhaf entered the game in the seventh and recorded his save by striking out nine of the 10 batters he faced.
Fallen by the wayside was a stellar starting effort from Brian Eichhorn, who remains winless despite three solid starts this season. The Eagles’ junior righty breezed through five scoreless innings, but got into a jam in the sixth and ultimately surrendered a two-run double to James Venuto for the first runs of the game scored by either team.
Eichhorn battled through the inning before exiting the game. He finished with six hits allowed and seven strikeouts in a 98-pitch effort.
Georgia Southern fought back for Eichhorn in the bottom half.
Elon starter George Kirby was equally dominant through the first five innings and had allowed just one Georgia Southern hit before his team pulled in front. But Steven Curry and Mitchell Golden got the ball rolling with consecutive singles to start the bottom of the sixth. Mason McWhorter then flared a double down the left field line to cut the Elon lead to 2-1.
Christian Avant later lifted a fly ball that was initially too shallow to score Golden, but the throw to home was cut off and fired to second base in an attempt to catch McWhorter. The throw was mishandled and Golden raced in to tie the game.
Braxton Johns relieved Eichhorn to start the seventh and struck out the first man he faced before Matt Oldham doubled and Ryne Ogren backed that up with a double of his own to put Elon bock on top, 3-2.
Cole Whitney cleaned up the inning for the Eagles, but allowed an unearned run in the eighth when an error on catcher Matt Anderson led to a sacrifice fly by Garrett Stonehouse.
The insurance proved unnecessary as Welhaf - who began the seventh for the Phoenix - chewed through the Eagles’ bats. A two-out single by Chandler Corely in the ninth was the only one of Welhaf’s 51 pitches that was put into play.
Georgia Southern will try to bounce back tomorrow as Seth Shuman - who is 10-0 in his collegiate career - takes the mound for a Noon start.