For sevend innings, it appeared that Campbell would exact its revenge from the 8-2 loss it suffered Tuesday night, but Georgia Southern senior Ryan Cleveland had other plans.
The Eagles entered the bottom of the eighth inning down 7-6, having battled back from being down as much as 7-2 earlier in the game. Jacob Greene and C.J. Ballard both reached base in the first two at-bats of the frame. A hard-bouncer hit to second by Mitchell Golden advanced both runners, but it put the two-out pressure on Cleveland, who was 0-3 previously in the game.
Cleveland took two pitches, then blasted the third high over the right field wall and into the parking lot to give Georgia Southern a 9-8 lead that proved to be the final score.
It was the fourth game in a row in which Cleveland has hit a home run.
“It wasn’t just a great feeling for me, our entire team had battled back,” Cleveland said. “But it was a great feeling for me too.”
Prior to that inning, the Eagles had struggled to generate any hits. Entering the eighth inning, Georgia Southern only registered three hits as a team, but benefited from three errors in the field by Campbell and eight walks by the Camels' pitching staff. It took every one of those walks and errors to get the Eagles back in the game — specifically one committed in the bottom of the seventh.
After notching two runs in the sixth to make it 7-4, Steven Curry led off the seventh inning with a walk and then advanced to second off an errant pickoff attempt.
A groundout and a walk later, Mason McWhorter hit into what should have been a double-play, but Campbell’s Kyle Mehl saw the ball dribble between his legs to let Curry score from third.
Tyler Martin then stepped up to smack a 1-0 pitch into right field deep enough to bring in Cleveland to make it 7-6. Jordan Wren walked to put the go-ahead run on first for Georgia Southern, but Campbell pitcher Wyatt Tyson struck out Logan Baldwin to end the frame and the threat.
“Mason fought off some pitches in a two strike count going into that at-bat,” said head coach Rodney Hennon. “That’s what you want to see, even if there’s only so much you can control in this game.”
After notching just three hits in Tuesday’s game against Seth Shuman and the bullpen company of Adam Kelly, Zack Strickland and Lawson Humphries, Campbell’s lineup had much better luck facing Wednesday starter Chase Cohen.
Cohen — fresh off giving up giving up six runs in a third of an inning against Memphis in a 9-8 loss Sunday — didn’t seem a likely candidate to pitch a hot first two innings, but was effective early on.
Cohen pitched the first two innings nearly perfect, striking out five of the seven batters he faced. 22 of his 29 pitches were strikes and the sophomore threw first-pitch strikes against all seven hitters he faced. Cohen was pulled after just two innings of work, but Hennon knew his Sunday starter had rebounded from a tough outing against Memphis.
“We wanted to get him back out here tonight. He probably didn’t throw 30 pitches Sunday,” Hennon said. “It was going to be good for him to get him feeling good again.”
Campbell had much better luck after Cohen left the mound. Jacob Condra-Bogan relieved Cohen in the third inning, but quickly found trouble. The Wofford transfer gave up four runs, five hits, two walks and a hit batter in his two innings of work.
After the Eagles drew their first blood in the bottom of the fourth on a Mason McWhorter double and a fielder’s choice, Condra-Bogan started to get into trouble. He couldn’t record an out five batters into the fifth inning as Campbell surged into the lead.
“He had a couple of 0-2 counts where he left the ball up and Campbell made him pay for it,” Hennon said. “Give Campbell credit for that six spot.”
Eric Goldstein came in to try and mop up the mess, but in the end it wound up being a six run inning for Campbell to go up 6-2 and seemingly put Georgia Southern down for good after adding another run in the top of the seventh.
Of course, the real fireworks were yet to come as the Eagles notched their third consecutive midweek victory.
“Baseball is a funny game like that,” Cleveland said. “Anything can happen. We saw it in Memphis and we saw it tonight. You can never get down on yourself.”
Georgia Southern (7-6) will travel to Elon this weekend to face the Phoenix in a three game series, starting Friday at 4 p.m.