Georgia Southern took a pair of wins over Elon that couldn’t be more different on Saturday afternoon at Eagle Field. Mackenzie Williams scored a walk-off double in the eighth inning to land a 6-5 win in the opener, while Allie Miles was up to her old tricks in the finale, tossing her third career one-hitter with nine strikeouts. The wins improve the Eagles to 34-17 and 18-2 in the Southern Conference.
Prior to Saturday’s game, Georgia Southern honored its 2012 class of four seniors. Jorie Walker, Williams, Hanna Ennis and Marie Fogle were introduced to the crowd in the ceremony that also recognized Elon’s Erin O’Shea, Kaitlyn Piazzolla and Danielle Laferty.
"We’ve got a great group of seniors and it was good to take a few minutes before today’s first game to honor them," said Head Coach Annie Smith. "Our batters had a very good day today and we had quality at bats throughout the lineup. Our pitching staff continues to get great outings and it has taken pressure off of our bats when we weren’t producing."
The senior duo of Ennis and Fogle woke up the Georgia Southern bats in the first inning with a single-home run combo that gave GSU an early 2-0 lead. The Eagle offense mustered half of its total from the last four games combined (four runs) in just one inning of the series.
Elon took advantage of a Georgia Southern throwing error in the third, driving in Ali Ford from second on the Phoenix’ first off starting pitcher Sarah Purvis. The Georgia Southern ace struck out five batters in the first trip through the Elon lineup and got out of the third with a 2-1 lead.
The Phoenix got a pair of runners aboard in the top of the sixth and cashed them in with a three-run home run, giving Elon a 4-2 advantage. In the bottom of the frame, a two-out single by pinch hitter Kaitlyn Johnson put a runner on base for Tabby Douberley. The Eagle first baseman laced a double to the gap in left to cut the lead to 4-3. Lexi Allen (Cobbtown, Ga.) followed suit with a double to center the squirted out of the diving centerfielder’s glove to tie the game at 4-4.
A second pitching change in the sixth inning brought Elon’s starting pitcher, Erin O’Shea, back into the game with Allen on second. O’Shea walked Alexa Lewis (Lawrenceville, Ga.) to put two runners on base for Ennis. After nearly getting hit by a pitch, Ennis doubled up the middle to score the go-ahead run. Elon gave Fogle an intentional free pass, opting to pitch to Williams with the bases loaded. The Eagle backstop nearly beat out a ground ball to third as the Eagles took a 5-4 lead into the top of the seventh.
Elon got a run in the seventh when a leadoff hit by pitch came around to score on a bases loaded single with two outs in the inning. It tied the game 5-5 with the Eagles batting in the seventh. A one-out walk was all the Eagles would get in the bottom of the seventh as the game went to extra innings.
Georgia Southern opened the eighth inning with Allen reaching base on a throwing error by O’Shea. Allen dropped a bunt, which was fielded cleanly, but the underhand toss by O’Shea went over the second baseman’s head, allowing Allen to reach second. After Lewis’ failed sacrifice attempt, Ennis reached base on a one-out walk, but Fogle lined out to the pitcher. Williams came up big with two outs, driving in the winning run on a high fly ball to the warning track in right which found the dirt for a game-winning double, 6-5.
Purvis went the distance for the Eagles picking up the eight-inning complete game victory. She struck out 10 batters on the afternoon, allowing her second-highest run total this season. She improves to 17-9 on the season.
The Eagles didn’t get off to as quick of a start in game two, but the Eagles did get on the board in the third. With the bases loaded, Andrea Tarashuk hit a duck snort down the left field line that was just beyond the reach of the Elon shortstop. The play scored two and gave GSU a 2-0 lead with one out in the inning. Southern loaded the bases again on a walk to Kourtny Thomas as Elon made a pitching change. A wild pitch on Chelsea White’s first delivery made the score 3-0. With two outs and runners on the corners, Douberley stole second successfully, but an error by Elon’s second baseman while receiving the throw allowed Walker, a pinch runner, to score from third, giving the Eagles a 4-0 lead.
Miles had her no-hitter bid scuttled in the top of the sixth when a likely fly ball out to left was lost in the sun by Lewis. The runner, however, was caught stealing third for the final out of the sixth inning, allowing her to face the minimum number of batters through six. Miles allowed two walks in the seventh, but finished off the complete game shutout for her third career one-hitter. She struck out a season-high nine batters and improved to 6-5 on the year.
Georgia Southern closes the 2012 home slate of games on Sunday afternoon against Elon starting at 1 p.m. Next weekend, Georgia Southern travels for the final regular season series at Furman starting on Saturday afternoon, May 5th, at 1 p.m.