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8-run 4th dooms GSU
030113 GSU BASEBALL 01
Georgia Southern shortstop Ben Morgan's two run shot in the fifth inning was one of the lone bright spots in the Eagles 11-4 loss to Xavier at J. I. Clements Stadium Friday. Xavier scored eight runs on eight hits in the fourth inning in the win. - photo by SCOTT BRYANT/staff

    Everything went wrong in Georgia Southern’s series-opening game on Friday against Xavier in J.I. Clements Stadium.
    Xavier committed four errors, but made up for it in a big way by tacking on eight runs — all of them earned — in the fourth inning to help run away with an 11-4 win.
    It was the fourth-straight loss for the Eagles.
    The fourth inning seemed like a never-ending nightmare for Georgia Southern (4-5). Xavier (3-4) started it off with three-straight extra-base hits, and the first eight Musketeers to the plate scored in the inning. At one point, five-straight XU hits drove in a run.
    “I tip my hat to them,” GSU coach Rodney Hennon said. “They really swung the bats well tonight and in the eight-run inning they put some good swings on the ball. We have got to pick ourselves up, bounce back and respond.”
    GSU starter Sam Howard was gashed for six of the frame’s eight runs, and he was relieved by John Stevenson, who gave up an RBI single before retiring the next three batters.
    Howard, Stevenson and Drew Johnson each pitched three innings for the Eagles.
    The Musketeers out-hit GSU, 17-9.
    Xavier added a run in the fifth on an RBI double by Derek Hasenbeck, and then made it 11-3 in the sixth on an RBI single by Daniel Rod.
    Georgia Southern shortstop Ben Morgan blasted his third home run of the season over the left-field fence for two runs in the bottom of the fifth, and the Eagles led 1-0 in the first when Morgan reached third on a dropped popup by XU centerfielder Mark Elwell. Morgan was driven in by a sacrifice fly off the bat of Chase Griffin.
    Morgan led GSU at the plate, finishing 2-for-5 with a double and two runs scored. Brent Pugh was the only other Eagle with multiple hits, finishing 2-for-4 with a double.
    Griffin is leading the team with 15 runs batted in. He and first baseman T.D. Davis entered the game tied for the Southern Conference lead with 14 RBIs each.
    With two on in the sixth, Morgan nearly missed another bomb when he hit an 0-1 pitch roughly 345 feet, but the ball sailed just left of the foul pole.
    Robbie Dodds, who transferred to GSU from Spartanburg Methodist Junior College, hit his first home run as an Eagle, knocking a solo shot to straightaway center to make it 11-4 in the eighth. Dodds came in to pinch hit for Zac Lenns, who started in right field.
    “It was good to see,” Hennon said about the Dodds home run. “In a game like tonight, to come off the bench and put a good swing on the ball gives our team a little bit of a spark and gives him some confidence.”
    The Eagles will start Jason Richman today for the second of three games against Xavier. First pitch is slated for 2:30 p.m.
NOTES: Morgan started at shortstop for the first time since April 11, 2012, when the Eagles defeated Jacksonville, 7-6. Morgan played only sparingly for the remainder of the 2012 season after the injury, and started the first eight games of the 2013 season at third base. … Xavier has yet to hit a home run through seven games this season. … Arthur Owens, who left Wednesday’s game against Georgia Tech with an injury, is expected to miss at least this weekend’s games. … Friday’s game was the fourth-straight game, all losses, in which the Eagles allowed 10 or more runs. … The Eagles have led at some point in each of the season’s nine games. … Announced attendance was 1,034.

    Matt Yogus may be reached at (912) 489-9408.