A pitcher’s duel on Friday turned into an offensive display by both teams Saturday at J.I. Clements Stadium as Georgia Southern out-slugged Samford to take game two in a 14-9 win that handed the Eagles the series and their fifth-straight win.
The Eagles (20-15, 11-6 Southern Conference) hit six doubles, an A.J. Wirnsberger triple and three home runs in the offensive display.
Senior catcher Randy J. Williams had a career night, blasting in three of his four RBIs with his first homer of the season and finishing 3-for-5 with two doubles.
“I’ve got to give credit to Kevin Bowles,” said Williams about his homer. “He told me I was just thrown off a little bit in that first at-bat. (Samford starter Kyle Putkonen) threw me a 1-2 fastball and I just got the head out. Coach (Hennon) gave me a hit-and-run right there, and I kind of turned it into a hit-and-trot.”
A two-run homer by Michael Johnson, hitting in the leadoff role for the first time for Samford, gave the Bulldogs a 2-0 lead in the top of the third.
Another two-run shot, this time by SU cleanup hitter David Schulze quickly gave Samford a 4-0 advantage it wouldn’t hold on to for long.
Georgia Southern surged back into the game in the bottom of the fourth, batting around with 10 plate appearances in the inning.
Kyle Blackburn led off the frame with a walk on four-straight, and that was the beginning of the end for Samford starter Kyle Putkonen.
Each of the next four pitches by Putkonen did some GSU damage.
Eric Phillips crushed the first pitch he saw over the left-field fence for a two-run homer to get within two.
The next pitch was good for an A.J. Wirnsberger single, and the next was dealt to Victor Roache, who roped a double down the third-base line to drive in Wirnsberger and cut it to 4-3.
After forcing Shawn Payne to pop out for the first out of the inning, Putkonen dealt to Williams, who hit a no-doubter over the fence in left center for a 6-4 Georgia Southern lead.
The Eagles added two more in the fifth on back-to-back, RBI doubles by Payne and Williams to enter the sixth with an 8-4 lead. They got three more in the bottom of the sixth when Kevin Bowles scored on a wild pitch after leading off the inning with a double.
Wirnsberger drove in Blackburn and Phillips with a two-run double to put the Eagles up 11-4.
Three in the seventh and two more in the eighth weren’t enough, for Samford, who cut it to 11-9, as GSU tacked on three more, including a two-run homer by redshirt freshman catcher Michael Burruss, who was hitting in the designated hitter role, to seal the win.
“He’s doing really, really good job. I’m really proud of him,” said Williams about Burruss. “We talk about it on the road together. I really like the system we’ve got going now. He’s swinging, I’m swinging and we’re just trying to encourage each other. One valuable catcher’s good, but when you can have two, that’s even better.”
The series concludes today at 1:30 p.m.
NOTES: Samford had not lost a series this season heading into the weekend. … GSU football assistant Mitch Ware threw out the first pitch, caught by his son Jake, a GSU baseball player.
Matt Yogus can be reached at (912) 489-9408.