By allowing ads to appear on this site, you support the local businesses who, in turn, support great journalism.
GSU renews rivalry on the road
031211 GSU  PHILLIPS 2
Georgia Southern's Eric Phillips leads the Southern Conference in hits (38) and batting average (.469) in 2011. - photo by SCOTT BRYANT/staff

    Usually, when you think of rivalries at Georgia Southern, the first two names that pop up are Appalachian State and Furman.
    Not on the baseball field.
    The Eagles are preparing to travel to Charleston, S.C. to face College of Charleston for a three-game set beginning today, and this one’s personal.
    In the majors, redemption for a loss could come up in a week or two on the schedule, but in the college game, you have to wait a whole season.
    The Cougars swept GSU in 2010, winning the first two by a run and taking the third in an 11-8 decision. Due to Southern Conference scheduling, the Eagles will head to Charleston for the second-straight season.
    “There’s always something on the line in the league between these two teams, and that’s college baseball,” said GSU coach Rodney Hennon. “It is a game of emotion. It’s a little bit different in that regard to the pro game.”
    Junior infielder Eric Phillips has been on both ends of a sweep.
    “Last year, they got the better of us,” he said. “The year before, we swept them. It’s big one for us.”
    The last time GSU hosted the Cougars, the Eagles trailed by eight runs on three separate occasions before a game-tying homer in the ninth by Ty Wright, who drove in the eventual game-winning run in a 15-14 game that lasted 14 innings and exactly five hours.
    The Eagles took the next two by a combined score of 36-15.
    Phillips is always quick to explain the rivalry to the team’s younger players.
    “We do a pretty good job of relaying the message,” he said.
    The Eagles (13-9, 4-2 SoCon) will stick with the same weekend rotation of Chris Beck, Josh Adams and Andy Moye after dropping two of three to Samford a week ago.
    The Eagles picked up momentum with a 9-2 Sunday win and an 8-2 midweek game against Kennesaw State.
    Matt Murray, who gave up a grand slam in Friday’s 5-4 loss to Samford, went scorless in relief Tuesday to pick up the win.
    “He’s been in the program three years and matured in a lot of different ways,” Hennon said about Murray. “He’s the same guy, regardless of what happens. When you’re going at the pace he was going, you’re going to get one up at some point throughout the course of the season, and he did, but I thought he responded well.”
    Sophomore Justin Hess entered the game with the Eagles trailing KSU 2-1, and extended his scorless-innings streak to 11.1 after a shaky start to the season.
    “That’s been probably the most encouraging part of our team, what he did during that spring break week,” said Hennon about Hess. “He was slow out of the gate a little bit, but we all saw last year what he was capable of doing. It’s good to see him get back in a rhythm again.”
    Charleston (15-7, 2-1) enters the series on a four-game losing streak, dropping three straight in a tournament it hosted last weekend with Southern Miss, UConn and Rhode Island and falling 24-4 to South Carolina on Tuesday.
    First pitch for today’s game is scheduled for 6 p.m.

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