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Eagles look to sting Yellow Jackets
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            Early in the season, the Georgia Southern Eagles struggled with Tennessee Tech and before dropping two games at home to Georgia Tech.

            The Yellow Jackets are still in the Top 10, but this time, when they face GSU for a two-game series beginning today, it’s a different group of Eagles.

            Georgia Southern is riding a six-game winning streak including three against Samford, who entered last weekend’s series with an 11-1 record in Southern Conference play and tied for first.

            A large part of the success for GSU (21-15, 12-6) of late has come from a power surge out of the bottom of the order.

            Hitting in the seven, eight and nine holes, Michael Burruss, Shawn Payne and Randy J. Williams came alive on Saturday, finishing out the last two games of the series by combining for eight hits, including two homers and six doubles, eight runs and 13 RBIs.

            Williams, a senior who was expected to get a bulk of the work behind the plate along with Burruss, also looked sharp defensively, throwing out base stealers in each of the first two innings Saturday.

            “Early on it was very frustrating for him,” said GSU coach Rodney Hennon. “He wants to do well and things didn’t really go early on how we all planned. Fortunately during that stretch, Michael stepped up and did a good job for us. It’s good to be able to use both of those guys at the same time, and we feel like we have two good options at the position.”

            Matt Murray (3-1, 6.15 ERA, 47 K) will get the start today at 6 p.m. after working 3.1 innings with three strikeouts, five hits and four earned runs on Saturday against the Bulldogs.

            “He’ll be on the mound with a pitch count because he didn’t throw many pitches Saturday,” Hennon said. “We want to get him back out there, so he’ll throw, but I wouldn’t expect to see him work more than two or three innings.”

            The rest of the staff will be on notice against the No. 5 Yellow Jackets.

            “Obviously we need some guys to step up out of the bullpen,” said Hennon. “It’s a good opportunity for some of those guys.”

            Tech (31-5, 15-3 Atlantic Coast Conference) hasn’t been challenged by much of anyone this season.

            The veteran lineup slugged its way to 23 runs in a three-game sweep of Clemson after throttling the Georgia Bulldogs 25-6 in Athens.

            The Jackets are batting .342 as a team with 80 home runs, compared to .298 and 28 for GSU.

            The last time the Eagles were in Atlanta to face Georgia Tech, they were the ones pouring it on. They defeated the Jackets 23-3 on April 8, 2009 to even the season series at 2-2.

            Wednesday’s first pitch is scheduled for 4 p.m.


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