GREENSBORO, N.C. — Chris Beck pitched a gem, but the Georgia Southern Eagles didn’t have any time to enjoy it.
UNC Greensboro scored two unearned runs in the bottom of the third, and that was the difference as the Spartans knocked off GSU in Game 1 of a three-game series, 3-2, Friday at UNC Greensboro Baseball Stadium.
“After [the third inning], I thought he really settled in, got in a rhythm and was outstanding,” said GSU coach Rodney Hennon about Beck. “We’ve just got to be better out of the gate. We came out of the gate ready to play last week [against Elon]. Tonight I didn’t like our approach early in both phases."
Beck pitched a complete game, faced the minimum in each of the final five innings, struck out nine and allowed only four hits and one earned run, but he was matched by UNCG pitcher Warren Slack.
The Spartans (23-17, 12-7 Southern Conference) got 6.1 innings out of Slack, who struck out five and pitched around five Georgia Southern hits and three walks.
It was only the second time this season the Eagles (25-17, 13-6) have lost when out-hitting their opponent. The Spartans needed only four hits to get the job done.
Georgia Southern struck first when Michael Burruss reached third on a one-out triple in the top of the first inning and scored on an RBI single by Eric Phillips.
Greensboro answered in its half of the first, when leadoff hitter John Hein walked to open the inning. He scored all the way from first on an RBI double by cleanup hitter Drew Gehringer.
Gehringer doubled again in the third, but the inning appeared to be over when Beck forced a two-out grounder to first by UNCG’s Eric Brindle. First baseman Steve Cochrane couldn’t get a glove on it and Gehringer scored from second.
Brindle took second on a balk by Beck, and scored on an RBI single by Ray Crawford.
Beck struck out Thomas Troelstrup to end the third inning, and retired each of the last 16 batters of the game, including a double play in the seventh and five-straight strikeouts in the fifth and sixth.
“He hurt himself a little bit early and made some mistakes early in the game,” said Hennon. “I thought after [the third inning], he settled in. The walk in the first, the balk later on and the error behind that, and we were on our heels. You make a mistake on an 0-2 pitch and give up a run, and those are little things you can’t do against good baseball teams.”
The Eagles chipped away in the fifth when Steve Cochrane reached on an error and later scored on a sacrifice fly by Ben Morgan, but saw four runners unable to advance past second base for the remainder of the game.
Game 2 of the series will take place today at 1 p.m.
Right handed pitcher Andy Moye (5-1, 2.30 ERA) will get the nod against the Spartans.
Matt Yogus can be reached at (912) 489-9408.