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Eagles take series opener over Appalachian State

    Georgia Southern won its fifth conference game in seven tries and got a series against rival Appalachian State off to a great start Thursday night with a 6-2 victory at J.I. Clements Stadium.
    The Eagles (22-12, 8-5 Sun Belt) trailed in the early innings before scoring four unearned runs in the fourth inning to pull ahead. That was more than enough for starting pitcher Jacob Condra-Bogan, who battled through 7.1 innings and 114 pitches to improve to 4-0 on the season.
    “Jacob did a great job on the mound for us,” GS coach Rodney Hennon said. “We gave them a run early with an error, but then we took advantage of a mistake. Overall, I thought the energy was better than what we had earlier in the week. We want to keep taking things a game at a time and continue to get these wins.”
    Appalachian State (12-22, 3-10) sent Travis Holden to the hill to begin Thursday’s game and he nearly matched Condra-Bogan’s effort — but with much less luck.
    Holden threw 116 pitches over seven strong innings, but was undone in the fourth frame. After striking out Jordan Wren and Ryan Cleveland to begin the inning, Tyler Martin reached on a throwing error by ASU second baseman Matt Vernon to keep the inning alive. Mason McWhorter walked and Evan McDonald blooped a single into right to score Martin. McWhorter came in on a single by Jacob Greene, McDonald raced home on a wild pitch, and Greene crossed the plate on a throwing error by Jason Curtis to stake GS to a 5-1 advantage.
    “We took advantage,” Hennon said. “We had some hits with two outs and some good at-bats with two strikes to make the most out of that situation. After that, Jacob continued to throw well and Connor (Simmons) finished it.”
    Appalachian State raced out in front in the first inning when Vernon doubled off of Condra-Bogan and Tyler Stroup singled him home. Georgia Southern couldn’t put much of anything together against Holden until the bottom of the third when Green crushed an offering over the left field wall for a game-tying solo shot and his third home run of the season.
    “I just tried to make a good swing,” Greene said. “What really did it for us was the next inning when we scored four. And then you had (Condra-Bogan) hitting his spots all night. That made it easier for everyone.”
    Following the Eagles’ fourth inning outburst, Condra-Bogan went on cruise control.
    The senior transfer from Wofford continued to entrench himself in the weekend rotation as he struck out five Mountaineers and avoided jams by retiring seven of the eight leadoff hitters he faced.
    Connor Simmons was the only Eagle summoned from the bullpen Thursday night and he charged into action, hitting 95 miles per hour on the radar gun and recording three of his five outs via strikeout.
    The Eagles plated their sixth run of the night in the fifth inning when Wren knocked in Mitchell Golden with an RBI double that carromed halfway up the wall in left center.
    With the win, the Eagles maintained their hold on third place in the Sun Belt’s eastern division while maintaining the conference’s best overall record. WIth fellow eastern front-runners Coastal Carolina and South Alabama squaring off this weekend, a solid showing against Appalachian could help Georgia Southern to make a move.
    The teams will return to action tonight at 6:30 p.m. Brian Eichhorn will get the start for the Eagles tonight, with Chase Cohen getting the nod in Saturday’s rubber match.