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GSU, Citadel face SoCon showdown

The Georgia Southern Eagles have revenge on their minds — again.

In 2010, the Eagles were swept on the road by College of Charleston, and returned last weekend to take the series with wins on Friday and Sunday.

The 2010 regular season ended with a sweep by The Citadel at J.I. Clements Stadium.

It’s time for that rematch. Georgia Southern (15-11, 6-3 Southern Conference) hosts The Bulldogs in a three-game set beginning today at 7 p.m.

"They came in here last year and put it on us for three days late in the year. It kind of sent us into a little bit of a tailspin. I’d be lying if I said I didn’t remember that," said GSU coach Rodney Hennon. "But this is a new year. The bottom line is that we’re in a good position where we’re at. We need to continue to improve our position and take care of our business."

The Citadel (10-15, 5-7) lost a star in Friday night pitcher Asher Wojciechowski after the 2010 season. The first-round draft pick struck out 155 batters in 125.2 innings on the way to a 12-3 record a year ago.

Still, the series with the Bulldogs has not been an easy one. The Eagles have won just three of the last nine against The Citadel, though they hold a 35-34 edge all-time.

"These are always competitive games year-in and year-out," Hennon said. "They’re meaningful games within the league. They still bring in a pretty good pitching staff and have had good numbers all year long if you look at it from that standpoint. They’re still the reigning Southern Conference champions, so we’ve got to be ready to get after it."

Georgia Southern is expected to start Chris Beck (3-0, 3.08 ERA, 38 IP, 44 K) against The Citadel’s Matt Talley (1-2, 4.13 ERA), a lefty with an 11-1 career mark in SoCon games.

Coming off a 4-2, Tuesday night loss at Jacksonville, Hennon looks for the bats to respond. Outside of a four-game losing streak against Georgia Tech and Samford and a pair of losses against St. John’s in a weekend series, GSU has bounced back immediately, answering seven of the team’s 11 losses with a win.

Entering the fourth of nine SoCon matchups, Hennon hopes to see more consistency out of the Eagles, whose longest winning streak ended at four after a sweep of Furman.

"You’re right at the midpoint of the season right now," said Hennon. "You definitely want to turn it up a notch in the second half of the season. You want to see improvement for your team, and I think that’s the biggest thing for me. I kind of look at where we’re at this point in the year. We’ve battled through some adversity, we’ve had different guys hurt and missing time. We’ve worked through that, and I think it’s made us a better team. We’ve probably gotten more guys involved as a result of that, and the key is just to get better."




: Prior to today’s game, Hennon will be honored for his 500th-career win, which he picked up Sunday at Charleston. … Closer Matt Murray leads the SoCon with a 0.65 ERA and .165 batting average against. … Batting .433, shortstop Eric Phillips continues leading the league at the plate. As a team, the Eagles’ .303 batting average is also the best in the conference.


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