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Georgia Southern advances to SoCon championship game
The Georgia Southern Eagles rush from the dugout to celebrate with relief pitcher Tripp Sheppard (40) after the final out was recorded in the 12th inning in a semifinal elimination game against Furman in the Southern Conference baseball tournament on Saturday in Charleston, S.C. The Eagles won 10-7. The Eagles will face Samford for the conference championship today. - photo by SoCon Photos



CHARLESTON, S.C. -- After 21 innings, 12 hours and two Furman near-comebacks, the Georgia Southern Eagles are back in the Southern Conference championship game.

            The Eagles plated three runs in the top of the 12th inning of the second game of a doubleheader and, finally, eliminated the Furman Paladins with a 10-7 win and advanced to the title game of the tournament on Saturday at Riley Park..

            The Eagles committed two errors, dropped three balls in foul territory and gave up three tuns in the bottom of the ninth to allow overtime, but three bases-loaded RBI singles in the 12th by Garren Palmer, Hunter Thomas and Chase Griffin sealed the win.

            “That’s certainly not the way you draw it up,” GSU coach Rodney Hennon said. “But to fight through that and still win the ballgame, I think that says a lot about the character of our kids.”

            Kody Adams led off the 12th with a double to the left-center gap, and took third on a sacrifice bunt by Ben Morgan. The bunt made the eighth-seeded Paladins (26-33) have to make some tough decisions. They elected to intentionally walk Aaron Mizell and Stryker Brown to load the bases and pitch to Palmer.

            “Kody really made my job easy,” Morgan said about the bunt. “All I had to do was bunt it away from the pitcher. Coach gave me the bunt sign, and I got it down.”

            Furman stranded five runners in the final three innings, and the Eagles continued to get out of jams -- a double play ended the ninth and a rocket line drive snagged by Morgan ended the 10th.

            “They just keep fighting and that’s all you can ask from them,” Hennon said. “They feed off each other, they pick each other up, and they get through adversity. They’ve done it all year.”

            Alex Abrams (3-for-6) tried to single-handedly win the game for Furman. He doubled, drove in a pair of runs and also pitched five innings that were flawless until the 12th.

            Abrams allowed one hit in relief before the 12th -- a single to Morgan in the ninth -- but Morgan was caught stealing and Abrams faced the minimum through four innings. He struck out five.

Abrams reached with a single to lead off the 11th, but after Morgan fielded a Jordan Simpson grounder and flipped it to Dalton Busby in an attempt to turn two, Abrams was ruled to have left the base line and Simpson was ruled out due to runners interference.

            The ninth began with a throwing error by Garrett Chapman allowing Carter Grote to reach second, followed by Greg Harrison taking first after being hit by an Eric Alonzo pitch.

            Mizell missed a chance at the first out when he dropped a fly ball in foul territory.



Chris Ohmstede got the scoring with an RBI single, followed by another from Alex Abrams. Jake Jones looped a single into left to tie the score at 7-7 and force extra innings.

The Eagles led 7-1 through six, but Furman scored six unanswered, beginning with a three spot in the seventh. Hunter Burton drew a bases-loaded walk and Grote ripped a two-run double to cut the GSU advantage to 7-4.

Jason Richman extended his GSU and SoCon record for pitching appearances with his 44th of the season, starting the game despite it being his fifth appearance in the last four days,

            “Whatever it takes to get to the championship,” Richman said. We talked about one day at a time, one game at a time, and we’re here. It’s Sunday.”

            He struck out five in 4.1 innings and allowed a run on two hits.

“Richman wants to throw every day,” Hennon said. “That’s just Jason.”

 The Eagles will play their last-ever SoCon tournament game on Sunday at 2 p.m., against third-seeded Samford.

            It will be the third time in the last four years the teams met in the title game. GSU won it in 2011 and the Bulldogs answered in 2012.

            “My freshman year, we beat them. Sophomore year, they beat us,” Morgan said. “I think we owe them.”


No. 4 Georgia Southern 11, No. 8 Furman 8, Game 1

Georgia Southern thumped across six first inning runs and held on to beat Furman 11-8 on Saturday morning to stay alive in the semifinals at the Southern Conference tournament at Riley Park.

The game started at 10 a.m. Game two ended just after 10 p.m.

The Eagles scored three times before Furman pitcher Jacques de Gruy recorded the first GSU out, and the first five hitters of the game scored as the Eagles batted around.

Aaron Mizell and Garrett Chapman led the way with RBI doubles.

The Eagles made it 8-0 when Garren Palmer blasted a two-run homer in the second. It was GSU’s seventh of the tournament.

Furman (26-32) had a bye in Friday’s quarterfinals, but de Gruy took the mound for the third time in eight days. It showed, as he walked Kody Adams to open the game on four pitches. He made it three innings, and allowed nine runs on nine hits.

Georgia Southern’s starter, Will Jackson, worked deep into the game, going 6.1 innings and allowing three runs on six hits, including a two-run homer to Jake Jones.


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