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Eagles host Samford Bulldogs in pivotal SoCon series

    In the midst of the final stretch run to determine the field for the Southern Conference Tournament, Georgia Southern's baseball team will host two of its three remaining SoCon series at home starting with Samford at 6 tonight at J.I. Clements Stadium. The teams will play at 2:30 p.m. Saturday and at 1:30 p.m. Sunday.
    The Eagles are one of seven teams with nine games remaining on the conference slate and need to continue their hot home play to ensure a spot in Greenville, S.C., on May 23.
    GSU (25-21 overall, 11-10 SoCon) is 11-3 at J.I. Clements Stadium since a March 4 victory over North Florida. The Eagles have won all three SoCon series played on Jack Stallings Field this season and have series victories over the top two teams in the league standings.
    Samford (30-16, 16-8) has recorded sweeps over Davidson and Western Carolina in its last two outings in the conference. Led by Louisville Slugger National Player of the Week Saxson Butler, the Bulldogs have won five straight games and nearly knocked off Alabama in their last loss April 24.
    Butler went 9-for-21 with two doubles, a triple, three home runs and 11 runs batted in last week. He went 2-for-5 with three RBIs in a 15-4 mid-week win over Troy on Tuesday.
    Coming off a 2-5 road trip, Scooter Williams got GSU back on the winning track in its first home game since April 15 with a walk-off single in the ninth inning on Wednesday.
    Williams has hits in 10 of his last 11 at-bats and is hitting a team-best .429 in the last 10 games. He is not the only Eagle riding a hot streak, Brent Pugh has hits in 10 of his last 26 at-bats and has answered the bell after entering the starting lineup in the series finale against Appalachian State.
    The Bulldogs have been just as good on the road as they have at home, and hold a 14-8 record away from campus. Samford is one of the more balanced teams in the conference and ranks third in both batting average and ERA. Butler, who hit two grand slams in the series a year ago, leads the team with a .357 batting average and is second with 11 home runs. Brandon Miller has the most in that category with 17 homers and he has a team-best 13 doubles.
    The Eagles dropped two of three in Birmingham, Ala., a year ago after Butler struck for an eighth-inning grand slam Friday night and a second-inning four-run homer Saturday. GSU avoided the sweep on Sunday after slugger Victor Roache hit a grand slam in the third inning.
    After the offensive explosion in the regular-season series, it was fitting that the two teams met for a 1-0 pitcher's duel in the 2011 SoCon Tournament championship game. Butler recorded one of three Samford hits in the ninth inning, but GSU's Chris Beck struck out Miller for the title. Beck was named the tournament's Most Outstanding Player after striking out nine batters in a complete-game shutout.
    All GSU baseball games can be heard on the Boomer 103.7 FM and inside J.I. Clements Stadium on 88.1 FM.