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Eagles rally past Jacksonville in ninth
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The Georgia Southern Eagles didn't take the lead until the bottom of the ninth when it mattered.
Eric Phillips, whose solo home run in the bottom of the sixth inning tied it at 4-4, drove one off the wall in left-center at the end to drive in Kevin Bowles and help GSU to a 6-5 win over the visiting Jacksonville Dolphins Tuesday at J.I. Clements Stadium.
The walkoff single came two pitches after Phillips lined a would-be home run foul down the left field line.
"(JU reliever Glenn Witkowski) started me with a slider that kind of hung over the plate and I hooked it foul by about 10 or 15 feet," said Phillips, who went 3-for-5 and drove in two on the night. "He came back with two fastballs in, then the last fastball was right down the middle."
Bowles (2-for-5, RBI) set up the winning run after the Eagles (18-15) entered the ninth down 5-4.
Jake Ware (1-for-2, 2 R), in his new role in the lineup as the designated hitter, walked to start things off. Arthur Owens (2-for-3, 2 2B) laid down a sacrifice bunt to get Ware to second, and Kyle Blackburn walked to put two on with one out.
Bowles sent a grounder past Witowski up the middle, and Jacksonville (17-17) shortstop Jamaal Hawkins had a hard time with it, winging it to first in the dirt for an error that allowed Ware to score and tie the game at 5-5. An A.J. Wirnsberger fielder's choice groundout put runners on the corners with two outs and set things up for Phillips, who also homered in GSU's 4-0 win over Elon Sunday.
"I feel like the past few weeks, I've started getting my rhythm back," Phillips said. "I started off the season real slow, but it's starting to come around."
Jacksonville set the tone in the early going, as left fielder Jonathan Murray hit a 2-1 pitch out of the ballpark during the game's first at-bat. A sac-fly RBI later in the inning put JU ahead 2-0 before the Eagles had come to the plate, and followed it up with two more the second inning before GSU had registered a hit.
"There wasn't a whole lot of energy in the dugout the first couple of innings," Phillips said. "We started getting a few hits here and there and putting together some runs, and everybody was in it so we had a chance to win."
It started when Arthur Owens hit the first of two doubles down the right-field line in the fourth. He scored on an RBI single by Kyle Blackburn, and A.J. Wirnsberger later scored on an RBI single by Victor Roache to cut it to 4-2.
A Kevin Bowles RBI single in the fifth drove in Ware to bring it within one, and the blast by Phillips in the sixth knotted it at 4-4.
Jacksonville answered in the top of the seventh when Hawkins blasted a homer to left center.
Georgia Southern went through four pitchers on the day, and freshman Chris Beck got his first-career win, facing four batters in the top of the ninth and allowing no runs on one hit. Starter Justin Hess was tagged with three runs in the first inning, and Michael Hester and Charles Matthews combined for seven innings, each allowing an earned run.
Georgia Southern returns to action Friday at 7 p.m. as Samford (20-11, 11-1 Southern Conference) comes to town for a three-game series.

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