Another deep start out of Georgia Southern’s pitching rotation got it done again.
Matt Murray went seven innings with six strikeouts and retired the first 15 batters he faced before Dexter Bobo and Colin Snow sealed the deal as the Eagles took game two from UNC Greensboro 8-3 Sturday at J.I. Clements Stadium.
“I was proud of Matt,” said GSU coach Rodney Hennon. “After kind of a rough outing last week (against Wofford), it was good to see him bounce back, pick himself up. We got him some runs early, which I thought was big. He did a nice job for us, and I though both of the guys who came out of the bullpen did a nice job as well.”
With the chance to get the first sweep of the season today in game three, the Eagles (13-11, 6-2 Southern Conference) have a lot of options on the pitching staff.
“That’s huge,” said Murray, who improved to 3-1 on the season. “In a Sunday game we have pretty much our whole bullpen available because Bobo and Snow only through one inning each. If anyone gets in trouble we get everyone ready. We feel really confident right now. We’ve just got to put these guys away, make sure we sweep.”
As for Saturday, it was another early display of power by GSU that gave it the early advantage. Kyle Blackburn got it started with a walk – his first of four free passes on the afternoon – and A.J. Wirnsberger (2-for-3, HR, 3 RBI) kept it going with a two-out, two-run blast over the scoreboard in left center.
Designated hitter Steve Cochrane followed the homer with a walk and a stolen base, and Eric Phillips made it 3-0 when he drove in Cochrane with another two-out hit, a liner to left.
Murray set down the Spartans (11-11, 0-5) one after another until he was two outs deep into the fifth inning and back-to-back singles by Zach Leach and Drew Gehringer spoiled the perfect afternoon.
The Eagles tacked on a run in the fourth on a sacrifice fly by Arthur Owens, and Greensboro cut into the score in the top of the sixth. Kris Richards hit a leadoff home run to left, and Chris Barker, who reached when hit by a Murray pitch, later scored on an RBI groundout by pinch hitter Joey Frabasile to cut it to 4-2.
The Spartans cut it to one in the top of the eighth when Richards doubled off Murray, took third on a Bobo balk and scored on an RBI groundout by Harry Slade.
Georgia Southern would seal the victory with a four-spot in the bottom of the eighth. Kevin Bowles had an RBI single, Wirnsberger had a sacrifice fly and Bowles and Blackburn crossed the plate on a throwing error by Ray Quinones to make it 8-3.
Bobo and Snow each faced three batters and retired them all.
The Eagles go for the sweep today. Originally scheduled for 1:30 p.m., first pitch was moved to 1 p.m. at J.I. Clements due to the threat of afternoon thunder showers.
Andy Moye (2-2, 5.5 ERA, 24.1 IP, 22 K) gets the start after picking up a win last Sunday at Wofford.
NOTES: Shawn Payne, who was day-to-day during the week due to a sore shoulder, started both Friday and Saturday. He stole two bases Saturday to remain perfect on the season at 12-for-12. … Wirnsberger’s home run in the first was his team-leading ninth of the season. It came one day after Blackburn hit his eighth. …Blackburn scored twice in the game without the aid of a hit. He walked in the first, fourth and eighth innings and was hit by a pitch in the third. … Owens also got on base the hard way, finishing 1-for-2 with an RBI, two hit by pitches and a sacrifice bunt. … Announced attendance was 1,529.
Matt Yogus can be reached at (912) 489-9408.