By MATT YOGUS
Victor Roache hit a solo homer to tie the game in the bottom of the ninth, and almost saved Georgia Southern’s season opener.
George Washington’s Paul Pakan hit a two-run double in the top of the 10th inning to propel the Colonials to an 8-6 win over the Eagles in extra innings Friday at J.I. Clements Stadium.
George Washington (1-0) scored five unearned runs and drew six walks off six different GSU pitchers in a game shortened by new NCAA-sanctioned bats.
“The base on balls and the errors really hurt us tonight,” said Georgia Southern coach Rodney Hennon. “I think with the game being where it is, with the bats kind of playing a little different, mistakes like that are going to be magnified even more. I think you’re going to see a lot of games like tonight that are going to be close ballgames. It’s going to come down to who makes fewer mistakes. It’s opening day, you saw a lot of mistakes on both sides and to their credit, they got the big hit.”
With the Eagles (0-1) trailing 6-5, Roache (1-for-5) belted an 0-1 pitch off GWU reliever Chris Keiper to straight-away center to tie the game for the first time since the first inning.
In the top of the 10th George Washington answered with a two-out rally on GSU reliever Jarrett Leverett, who took the loss.
Owen Beightol kept the inning alive with a two-out single, and Brendon Kelliher reached safely when a fielding error by freshman second baseman Ben Morgan extended the inning.
Pakan (2-for-4, 3 RBIs) belted a double off the wall in center to give the Colonials all the scoring they needed for the win.
Michael Burruss, a sophomore who played left field but started his GSU career behind the plate as a freshman, led the Eagles offensively.
Burruss (3-for-4, 2 RBIs, 2 R) singled to drive in Arthur Owens and start the scoring in the bottom of the fifth with the Eagles trailing 5-0. Steve Cochran (2-for-4) later walked in a run with the bases loaded, and junior-college transfer Jessee Piccalo singled in Burruss to leave GSU down 5-3 after five innings. Burruss doubled in the sixth and scored on an Eric Phillips single to make it a 6-4 ballgame.
“Mike is really now one of our more experienced guys,” Hennon said about Burruss. “It’s amazing to say that after where he was last year at this time, but he played almost every game last year, and he’s developed into a good hitter. I think it showed tonight. He was staying within himself and not trying to do too much.”
Chris Beck started the game for the Eagles, going four innings and striking out seven while allowing three runs — one earned — on four hits.
Beck, Justin Hess, Chris Meyers, Taylor Burke, Andy Moye and Leverett all saw the mound, combining for 15 strikeouts.
Burke, a freshman out of Bulloch Academy, got his first career appearance in the fifth. The lefty entered the game with the bases loaded and one out in the fifth, and retired the side forcing groundouts to second and short in his only inning of work.
The Eagles will play the second of the three-game series today at 2:30 p.m. Junior-college righty Josh Adams is expected to start for GSU.
Matt Yogus can be reached at (912) 489-9408.