By allowing ads to appear on this site, you support the local businesses who, in turn, support great journalism.
GSU opens SoCon play against Furman

Georgia Southern beat the No. 1 Florida Gators 7-0 on Tuesday.

But that’s over and done with.

The only thing that matters to the Eagles is that the Southern Conference schedule starts today and the Furman Paladins are coming to town.

The Eagles (8-5) host Furman (6-8) today at 7 p.m. at J.I. Clements Stadium in the first of a three-game series.

"[Beating Florida] was a great way to start the week off, especially with this being our first conference weekend, but it’s very important for everybody to understand — our players, our fans, everybody — that game is over with," said GSU coach Rodney Hennon. "Now we’ve got to get ready for Furman and carry that momentum from Tuesday into the weekend."

Against the Gators, Eric Phillips — who injured his shoulder against North Carolina Central on Feb. 27 and since remained in the lineup at designated hitter — returned to the field at second base.

He was replaced at shortstop by freshman Ben Morgan, who went 3-for-4 against Florida and scored twice on run-scoring singles by Shawn Payne. Morgan is only one of only six Eagles to have started each game, and has looked at home at both middle-infield spots since a pair of errors in the opening series against George Washington.

"I don’t like making errors," said Morgan, who played his high school ball at Greenbrier. "I know I’m not perfect, but I strive to be the best that I can be. When I make an error, it just makes me work harder."

For the time being, anyway, Morgan will remain at short.

"We kind of went back and forth with that before the season even started because we’re comfortable with both of them," Hennon said about Morgan and Phillips. "Right now we’ll leave it as is."

It doesn’t seem to matter to Morgan.

"I just like to be out there making plays," he said.

The Eagles pitched Friday and Saturday starters Chris Beck and Josh Adams against Florida, but they each threw only two innings and will be ready to go for the Furman series.

"You’ve got to take it one day at a time," Hennon said. "You’ve got to play 30 conference games and they’re all equally important. Being able to get out of the gate good certainly helps."

The Paladins have lost eight of their last 10 after sweeping four from Ohio to open the season, and have played only twice — losses to East Tennessee and Presbyterian — since a March 5 win over Davidson.

Furman started conference play in a similar fashion to the Eagles, shutting out a Southeastern Conference team before splitting a pair in a rain-shorted series with Davidson.

"They had a big mid-week win over an SEC team as well," said Hennon about the Paladins. "They beat Georgia a couple weeks ago, and they’ve been competitive in virtually every game they’ve played."

Morgan looks forward to starting play within the league after an up-and-down start to the season.

"It has been a roller coaster, a big roller coaster," Morgan said. "It’s been a whole new experience coming from high school, but I like it. I like playing big teams, I like the experience, I like the crowds, it just motivates me."


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