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Eagles Edge Elon, even series

ELON, N.C. – Dexter Bobo entered in the seventh inning and held the Phoenix scoreless through three to pick up his first win of the season as Georgia Southern defeated Elon 5-4 Saturday at Latham Park.

Tied at 4-4 entering the eighth, the Eagles used a hit-by-pitch to drive in the go-ahead run and improve to 16-15 overall and 8-6 in Southern Conference play. Elon dropped to 21-11, 9-5 with the loss.

 Bobo picked up his first decision of the season working three innings, striking out three and allowing no runs on two hits to snap a four-game losing streak for Georgia Southern. Ken Ferrer drew the loss for Elon going 2.1 innings, surrendering two runs (one earned) on two hits in nine batters faced.

 Victor Roache led GSU with a career-high three hits, while driving in two runs and scoring once. Shawn Payne, Kevin Bowles, Kyle Blackburn, A.J. Wirnsberger and Michael Burruss each posted two hits.

 Capitalizing on a throwing error from Georgia Southern, Elon was able to score twice in the first inning to strike in the opening frame for the second straight contest. Justin Hilt led off reaching second base on a throwing error from Eric Phillips and scored unearned on the next at-bat when Alex Swim singled up the middle. Consecutive singles from Ryan Adams and Neal Pritchard plated Swim as Elon took a 2-0 lead.

Eagle starter Matt Murray committed a throwing error in the second that put Harry Austin on third by recording a strikeout and groundout to close the inning. But a productive top of the third put the Eagles in the lead for the first time this series after four hits drove in two runs. With one out, three consecutive singles from Blackburn, Wirnsberger and Phillips were scattered around the field to load the bases. Roache recorded his second hit of the afternoon lining a 1-0 pitch up the middle tying the game at 2-all. A Cochrane groundout to first unassisted scored Wirnsberger from third as Georgia Southern took a 3-2 lead in the third.

The 12th hit of the contest from Georgia Southern, a single from Burruss, chased Phoenix starter Britt from the game after working five complete innings allowing three earned runs. Ferrer relieved Britt and stranded Burruss on the base paths.

 After Murray retired 11 straight batters, a one-run sixth inning from Elon tied the game at 3-all when Mike Melillo singled through the left side. The senior Phoenix moved to third on a double from Adams. A sacrifice fly off the bat of Pritchard scored Melillo before Murray struck out Hinson for the second out. Seth Canipe flied out to center to close the inning and strand the potential go-ahead run on third for Elon.

 A costly error from the Phoenix shortstop in the next frame allowed Blackburn to reach base and Wirnsberger followed with a walk. A sacrifice bunt to third from Phillips moved both runners into scoring position with Roache approaching the plate. Roache grounded out to shortstop, but the Eagles were able to retake the lead compliments of the error when Blackburn crossed the plate for a 4-3 ballgame.

 The second throwing error by Burruss in the contest proved costly when Riddle moved to third after reaching on a single to left field. Murray issued a free pass to Austin before Bobo entered the contest with two Phoenix runners on and no outs in the seventh.  The Eagles recorded the first out picking off Austin at first, caught stealing. Elon tied the tilt at 4-all on a single to center from Swim that scored Riddle. Melillio walked to load the bases with only one out, but Adams grounded into a double play to end the inning with the score knotted at 4-all.

Tied at 4-4 in the top of the eighth, GSU wasted no time getting runners on base quickly as Burruss singled on the first pitch through the right side. Ferrer elected to try to get Burruss on the force out at second on a sacrifice bunt from pinch hitter Arthur Owens, but the throw was not in time, leaving both Eagles on base. Payne singled to third base, loading the bases, but the Phoenix removed a run from the board when Burruss was forced out at home on a groundball to first base for the first out. A hit batsman in the next at-bat scored the go-ahead run, 5-4, when Blackburn was awarded first base. A double play followed to end the inning.

 Bobo retired the side in the eighth and erased a Riddle single up the middle in the ninth with a sacrifice bunt, strikeout and groundout to cap the win for Georgia Southern.

 Adams and Riddle both went 2-for-4, while Swim went 2-for-5 to pace the Phoenix offense. Swim and Pritchard each drove in two runs.

 The three-game series concludes with a 1:30 p.m. contest today at Latham Park.