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A hot SoCon start
Eagles drop Furman in league opener

There wasn’t any hangover after Tuesday’s win over No. 1 Florida.
    Andy Moye and Shawn Payne each hit their first home run of the season and the Georgia Southern Eagles cruised past Furman 7-1 in the Southern Conference opener for GSU Friday in Game 1 of a three-game series at J.I. Clements Stadium.
    “We need to take care of business and take the series, but it was definitely good for us to get off to a good start in the first conference weekend,” said Moye, a senior pitcher who also plays third base and has been in the batting order for the first time since his freshman season, “because every game counts.”
    Sophomore Chris Beck, who went two scoreless innings in the start against Florida, got the second-consecutive start, this time going deep into the ballgame.
    Beck (2-0) threw a career-high 118 pitches, struck out nine, allowed a walk, five hits and a run in seven innings of work.
    The Paladins (6-9, 1-2 SoCon) got their only run in the third inning. J.B. Jenkins got things started with a single, and reached third by virtue of a stole base and a sacrifice bunt. Will Owens laid down another sac bunt to drive in Jenkins and tie the game at 1-1.
    Other than that, Beck was nearly flawless. He faced the minimum in three different innings, and struck out Will Muzika in the three hole and Paul Nitto in the seven hole three times each.
    Furman stranded three runners in scoring position.
    “He was going after hitters all night long,” Moye said about Beck. “He was put in some tough situations with runners in scoring position and less than one out, and he just battled for us. He definitely built some confidence after that Florida win, and it was good to see our team come out and take care of business.”
    The Eagles (9-5, 1-0) got a run in both the second and third innings after leaving the bases loaded in the first, and tacked on two more in the bottom of the fourth with an RBI single by Eric Phillips (2-for-4) that scored Scooter Williams and a sacrifice fly by Steve Cochrane that drove in Shawn Payne.
    Moye’s homer came in the bottom of the fifth off of Furman reliever Daniel Stallsmith (4.2 IP, 5 H, 2 ER).
    Moye crushed the first pitch of the inning well over the fence in left-center for his first homer since high school.
    “Once I hit it, it was a good feeling I hadn’t had in a long time,” said Moye, who is expected to start at third today and on the mound Sunday. “It was a surprise, to be honest, a good feeling.”
    Moye nearly homered again to lead off the seventh when he drove a loud out to the track in straight-away center, and Payne got his first home run of the season when he crushed the first pitch of the bottom of the eighth out of the park to left-center.
    Jarett Leverett pitched the final two innings, facing the minimum thanks to a 6-4-3 double play in the top of the ninth.
    Shortstop Ben Morgan led the Eagles at the plate once again, driving in a run and going 3-for-4 for the second-straight game.
    The series resumes today with Game 2 at 2:30 p.m.
    Josh Adams, who entered in the third Tuesday against Florida and pitched three innings, is the projected starter for GSU.

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