Georgia Southern crossed the plate 15 times, but only needed one.
Chris Beck pitched eight shutout innings as the Eagles ran away from visiting North Carolina Central 15-0 in Game 1 of a three-game series Friday at J.I. Clements Stadium.
Beck (1-0) struck out 12, didn’t walk anybody, faced only three above the minimum in his eight innings of work and threw just 81 pitches.
The Eagles (4-2) committed no errors, and the five-run first in which each of the first five hitters scored didn’t hurt, either.
“It’s big when the offense comes up with a five-spot in the first inning. You can’t look back,” said Beck, a sophomore who got his second-straight Friday night start. “All you have to do is pitch with confidence, and they were playing defense behind me all night. I can’t ask for better defense.”
Beck allowed only four hits and set NCCU down in order six times.
Lefty Drew Johnson closed the game in the top of the ninth, starting off with a single to Dylan Drayton before forcing three-straight grounders to help the Eagles to their third shutout through the season’s first sic games.
The offensive fireworks started early, as Shawn Payne led off the Eagle half of the first with a double into the left-center gap.
Designated hitter Michael Burruss (3-for-3, 2 R, 3 RBIs) battled to a full count before depositing the sixth pitch of the at-bat over the fence in right-center for his first home run of the season.
Eric Phillips doubled, Steve Cochrane reached on an error and Victor Roache hit a two-run double before N.C. Central ever recorded an out.
An RBI groundout by Jesse Piccolo was good for the fifth run of the first inning.
Payne and Burruss each scored three times on three at-bats, and the first five spots in the GSU batting order scored in each of the first two innings putting the Eagles ahead 10-0 after two.
Beginning in the third inning, when Brent Pugh pinch hit for catcher Tom Richardson, six different pinch hitters entered the game. Georgia Southern tacked on three more runs in the third and another in the sixth and eighth innings.
“It’s tough to stay focused in ballgames when you get a big, early lead like that,” said Burruss. “It’s good to see a bunch of guys that kept their focus. We took a lot of good swings and hit a lot of line drives.”
Georgia Southern out hit NCCU 15-5, and scored five unearned runs off of three errors and four passed balls.
The series resumes today at 1:30 p.m.
NOTES: Payne’s first-inning double marked the 35th-consecutive game, dating back to last season, in which he has reached base. … Three Eagles — Burruss, Cochrane and Piccolo — finished the game with three RBIs. … The game marked the first time the two programs have met on the baseball field. … Announced attendance was 1,462.
Matt Yogus can be reached at (912) 489-9408.