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Eagles season comes to a close in NCAA Regionals
GSU baseball
The Georgia Southern baseball team thanks fans from the dugout following their loss to Texas Tech during the third round of the NCAA Regionals at J.I. Clements Stadium on Sunday, June 5. - photo by By SCOTT BRYANT

The Georgia Southern baseball team came into their elimination game Sunday afternoon against Texas Tech having only lost back-to-back game once since April 1st. Sunday afternoon it happened again as the Eagles were unable to take advantage of some opportunities while the Red Raiders made the most of limited chances ending the Eagles NCAA Regional run with a 3-1 loss at J.I. Clements Stadium.


Since April 8th the Eagles have not lost a single baseball game by more than two runs. Head coach Rodney Hennon felt that showed the kind of team they have been all year and was proud they were able to fight down to the wire once again.


“It was another battle, and that’s what we have been in all year with these guys,” said Eagle coach Rodney Hennon. “These guys are just battling in every game. I feel it just typifies this team and these young men and I couldn’t be prouder of this group.”


The Raiders managed only four hits off the Eagle pitching staff but turned a pair of those hits into a three-run inning. That proved to be enough Sunday as the Eagles struggled to get runners home leaving eight runners in scoring position and only managing one run on seven hits and three walks.


For the third straight game the Eagles actually took the lead. Georgia Southern got on the board in the third. Jesse Sherrill led off with a single, Jason Swan flew out and Christian Avant reached on a fielders choice. Avant advanced to second on a passed ball and the Raiders intentionally walked Noah Ledford. Austin Thompson then grounded back to the pitcher who threw the ball away allowing Avant to score. Ledford advanced to third and Thompson to second but were stranded as a strike out ended the inning.


Eagle senior Danny Madden got the start which was only his eighth of the season. Madden looked sharp through the first three innings but struggled a bit in the fourth. The Raiders started the inning with back-to-back singles. Madden then walked Ty Coleman and Kurt Wilson to bring home the tying run. Jay Thompson relieved Madden and got Owen Washburn to fly out. Jace Jung tagged and scored from third to make it 2-1. Hudson White followed that with an RBI single to extend the lead to 3-1. Thompson then struck out Parker Kelly and a failed double steal ended the inning as Thompson threw to catcher J.P. Tighe who applied the tag for the out.


Texas Tech only managed one hit the rest of the way as Thompson settled in and Jake Martin pitched the final two innings. The Eagles had baserunners in the sixth, seventh and eighth inning but were unable to score. Their best chances was in the eighth as Noah Ledford and Austin Thompson led off with back-to-back singles. Blancato attempted to bunt them over but popped out to third. Corey Dowdell then came in to pinch hit for Jarrett Brown and struck out. Parker Biederer then launched a long fly ball to right center, but with the wind blowing in Dillon Carter was able to make the catch on the warning track.


“Any ball hit out there today was going to be caught,” said Eagle right fielder Christian Avant. “Biederer’s drive in the eighth would have been gone in any other day at our place. I felt like I got a hold of one earlier and Ledford hit one off the wall but the wind was blowing in and the ball wasn’t carrying.”


After the game an emotional Hennon commented on the character of his fifth-year seniors and what they accomplished by helping the program host their first ever NCAA Regionals.


“I have been with these guys for five years now,” said Hennon. “These are some of the most competitive guys I have ever been around. They are a special group and have been a joy to be around. I could talk about these guys all day. If you’re not the last team standing at the end of the year you are disappointed. These guys have been a blessing to me.”


The Eagle players were proud of what they accomplished in their time at Georgia Southern and were sad to see their careers come to an end.


“Making that last out and knowing it would be my last time playing at J.I. was tough for me and all us seniors,” said Eagle fifth-year senior Jason Swan. “I have loved every minute of my five years here in Statesboro. That is why I came back for my fifth year because of the brotherhood here.”


“Five years here has been a blessing to me and my family,” said fifth =year senior Christian Avant. “I’m thankful for coach Hennon to give me a chance here. Our group just really bonded on and off the field. Our core group of guys are really like brothers and I’m sure they will be in my wedding. We are like a family and that is one of the reasons I love Georgia Southern.”