Obviously, finding a way to win was the most important thing Wednesday when Georgia Southern edged Charleston Southern 13-12 in an 11-inning affair that saw some unlikely heroes deliver in clutch situations.
Still, with so much going on within the game, the Eagles (26-19, 13-8 Southern Conference) found plenty of learning experiences, too.
Michael Burruss, a guy who has hit well all year but had only one home run entering the contest, hit a two-run shot to tie the game in the bottom of the ninth when GSU was down to its last strike and its last out.
Arthur Owens, an outfielder who has battled injuries and other Eagles to find the field this season and entered the contest with only one hit to his name this season, entered as a defensive replacement for Victor Roache in the top of the ninth with the lead, and went 2-for-2 with a double and a walkoff, RBI single in extra innings. He also made a diving catch in right field to steal extra bases from the Buccaneers.
Taylor Burke and Josh Adams pitched well in middle relief, and Jarret Leverett got the win with a 1-2-3 inning in the top of the 11th.
Owens and Stryker Brown got clutch hits as pinch hitters.
"To see some guys step up that aren’t every-day players was big for our team," said GSU coach Rodney Hennon. "Owens, Brown, Adams at the end, Taylor Burke coming out of the pen, [starting pitcher Will] Middour gave us a good effort. At the same time, when it was 7-2, we had opportunities to put the game away. We had some things that were uncharacteristic and allowed the game to get away from us."
The Eagles saw CSU put three runs — two unearned — on closer Matt Murray, who has been nearly unhittable this season. They committed three errors in the game, and gave up 19 hits when all was said and done. They also stranded 13 runners, including several potential game-winners.
"A lot happened in that game, obviously," said Hennon. "You go from frustration to excitement, and I think kind of what you take from that game are a lot of things that as a team, we can learn from. A lot of things that happened in that game can help our team right now, at this moment, the rest of the way out."
Fortunately, they did enough to get the win.
"Sometimes it’s easier to talk about those things and work on those things after a win than it is after a loss," said Hennon.
Georgia Southern will turn its attention back to SoCon play after a shocking three-game sweep by UNC Greensboro last weekend when GSU dropped from first to fourth place in league standings with Wofford (19-26, 6-15) today at 7 p.m. for the first of a three-game series.
The Terriers have lost six in a row, including a sweep by College of Charleston a week ago.
The Eagles will stick with the same rotation they used against UNCG. Chris Beck (6-2, 3.19 ERA) will take the mound today, then Andy Moye (5-1, 2.88 ERA) and Joe Lower (0-1, 4.76) are projected to finish out the weekend.
There will be no mid-week game before the Eagles return home to host Davidson in three beginning Friday, May 13 at 3 p.m.
Matt Yogus can be reached at (912) 489-9408.