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Georgia Southern holds off Furman, forces elimination game in semis
Georgia Southern left fielder Stryker Brown makes a diving catch against the Furman Paladins in the first game of a doubleheader in the semifinals of the Southern Conference tournament on Saturday at Riley Park in Charleston, S.C. The Eagles won 11-8 to force an elimination game. (SoCon Photos) - photo by SoCon Photos

CHARLESTON, S.C. -- The Georgia Southern Eagles 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.

It was the first loss of the tournament for eighth-seeded Furman. The teams will rematch for a trip to Sunday’s championship game on Saturday at 5 p.m.

The No. 4 Eagles (37-21) 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.

“He got behind in the count and struggled a little bit with his control, and we were able to take advantage of it and put some good swings on the ball,” Hennon said about de Gruy, who went 9.2 scoreless innings in GSU’s 1-0 extra inning win over Furman on May 3.

The six-run frame was the first time GSU plated six in an inning since the eighth at Wofford on April 27.

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.

“He did his job. He stepped up,” GSU coach Rodney Hennon said about Jackson. “We keep saying it’s going to take everybody, and now we’re going to need some guys to step up at 5 o’clock. It’s all hands on deck right now. Everybody’s got to be ready to pitch.”

Eric Alonzo and Tripp Sheppard combined in relief to give up five hits and four Furman runs in the eighth.

Jason Richman came in to pitch for the fourth-straight day in his GSU and SoCon record 43rd appearance of the season, with two outs in the eighth. He threw only three pitches including an RBI single to Hunter Burton and a passed ball that allowed Cameron Whitehead to score and cut the GSU lead to 11-7. Matt McCall got the Eagles out of the inning as Jones -- the ninth batter of the inning -- flew out to right.

McCall allowed a run on a pair of hits in the ninth but finished off the Paladins with the tying run in the hole.


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