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Eagles defeat Elon
SoCon's No.1, No. 2 teams compete again today
042211 GSU BASEBALL 1 web
As Georgia Southern's Shawn Payne slides safely into second, Elon short stop Neal Pritchard, top, and second baseman Sebastian Gomez nearly collide, allowing GSU batter Michael Burruss to beat out the throw to first in the second inning at Clements Stadium Friday. - photo by SCOTT BRYANT/staff

When the top two teams in the conference face off, the one that strikes first usually has the upper hand.
    Georgia Southern scored in four of the first five innings and got a seven-inning start out of pitcher Chris Beck, taking Game 1 over Southern Conference leader Elon 6-3 Friday night at J.I. Clements Stadium.
    Beck (6-1) pitched a gem, throwing 116 pitches over seven innings and striking out six.
    He allowed two earned runs on five hits.
    The GSU (23-15, 12-4 SoCon) bats got to work as quickly as Beck, who struck out the first two batters he faced in the 1-2-3 top of the first, and each of the first three batters scored in the bottom of the inning.
    “Everybody knew this game was serious coming in across the SoCon,” said Beck, a sophomore who has started each Friday night game this season. “When you see your guys go out there and get hits, you can’t do anything but be aggressive with them.”
    Shawn Payne led things off with a sharp single on a 3-2 fastball, Michael Burruss walked and Eric Phillips was hit by a pitch to load the bases with nobody out.
    Victor Roache struck out swinging, but a passed ball on the third strike allowed Payne to score. Roache was ruled out due to the loaded bases.
    Steve Cochrane hit a liner down to first, but Elon first baseman Grant McOury couldn’t get a glove in it, allowing Cochrane to reach safely and Burruss to score.
    Designated hitter Garren Palmer reached on a bunt single to drive in Phillips and give the Eagles a 3-0 lead.
    Elon’s Alex Swim doubled to lead off the second, and scored when Ryan Kinsella was caught in a rundown between first and second.
    Payne scored for the second time in the bottom of the second on an RBI single by Phillip.
    Palmer walked and scored in the third, but Elon answered with a pair of runs in the fourth to cut it to 5-3.
    Georgia Southern catcher Tom Richardson singled to lead off the fifth and scored unearned on the second Phoenix error to put the Eagles up by three.
    Game 2 takes place today at 2:30 p.m. with right hander Andy Moye expected to get the start for the Eagles.
    “Last year, we went down there, and they took Game 1,” said Payne. “They took Game 2, so we know they’ll be hungry [today].”

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