Georgia Southern is leading NCAA Division I baseball with 37 home runs. Only five programs out of 296 have a higher team batting average.
Sometimes, that’s not enough.
The Eagles (21-10, 4-5 Southern Conference) have lived and died by the long ball this season. They’re 16-2 in games in which they’ve hit a home run, and 5-8 in games they haven’t.
When it comes to laying down a sacrifice bunt, GSU is ranked 287th, with five, and it’s not for a lack of trying.
“When a team can match up and shut you down offensively, that’s when those little things really come into play,” GSU coach Rodney Hennon said. “Being able to get a leadoff man on, whether it’s drawing a walk or getting hit by a pitch or a base hit, whatever it takes, and then being able to get a bunt down or hit behind a runner, those are the things that we can do better than what we’ve done.”
That was on evidence on Wednesday against Kennesaw State, a game which the Eagles lost 3-0 and managed only two hits, despite allowing only one earned run and stranding six base runners.
“I think right now, for us, fundamentally (against KSU) we didn’t play as well as what I’d like to see,” Hennon said. “That’s got to be the key focus for us right now -- fundamental parts of the game.”
Will Middour got the start, and despite five walks in four innings and a pair of first-inning extra-base hits, took a step forward after back-to-back rough outings in which he couldn’t find the strike zone.
“He still threw out a few walks, but he made some pitches when he had to,” Hennon said. “Will always competes for you, and it was definitely a better effort for him.”
Seemingly, the Eagles will have an opportunity for some success this weekend in Charleston, S.C., in a three-game set against The Citadel (13-17, 1-8), which is currently last in the SoCon, though that’s not the mindset Hennon wants to see from the Eagles.
“You can’t get into that a whole lot about what their record is or where they are,” Hennon said. “My big concern -- whether it’s The Citadel or anybody else -- is the things we can do and how we can play.”
The road hasn’t been kind to GSU. The Eagles are 17-4 at home and 4-6 away from J.I. Clements Stadium. The last time GSU won a conference series on the road was April, 2013, when it took two of three from Elon.
Starting pitchers Sam Howard, Josh Wirsu and Ryan Frederick will get the starts this weekend.
Howard (3-3, 1.25 ERA) will start today’s game. First pitch is scheduled for 6 p.m.
Matt Yogus may be reached at (912) 489-9408.