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Hennon bags 400th GSU win
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Georgia Southern shortstop Eric Phillips, top, comes running off the bag after completing a pickoff at second base of Charleston Southern runner Tom Burkett in the top of the seventh Tuesday at J.I. Clements Stadium. - photo by SCOTT BRYANT/staff

            It wasn’t just any old weekday non-conference game.

            It was the eighth win in a row, win No. 30 on the season, and it was the 400th-career win at Georgia Southern for coach Rodney Hennon.

            The Eagles racked up 17 hits including four doubles and a two-run triple by Kevin Bowles as they took down visiting Charleston Southern 12-7 Tuesday at J.I. Clements Stadium.

            Hennon’s 400th GSU win was the 476th overall in his 13-year career as a head coach.

            “I think it just means I’m getting older,” Hennon said after learning he had reached the milestone. “Nah, I didn’t have any idea. I’m proud to be a part of this program. I think it’s just the fact that we’ve had a lot of consistency over the years and a lot of good players that work hard and enjoy playing the game. Other than that, I think it’s just the fact that I’ve been coaching a lot longer now than I was when I started.”

            It was the Buccaneers (17-30) who struck first after a scoreless first frame.

            After keeping the Eagles off the scoreboard following a pair of first-inning singles by Bowles (3-for-6, 3 RBI, 2 R) and Kyle Blackburn (2-for-4, 2B, 2 RBI), CSU pitcher Jesse Cadenhead gave the Bucs an early lead by hitting a solo homer from the six hole in the second.

            The Eagles (30-19) answered in a hurry, clocking in five runs on three hits and a Charleston Southern error in the bottom of the inning.

            Victor Roach led things off by reaching when a grounder to third was thrown over first baseman Nick Chinners’ head. Michael Burruss singled and took second when the throw went after Roache at third.

            Arthur Owens grounded out to second to drive in Roache and tie the game at 1-1. Randy J. Williams – who reached safely for the 17th-straight game - lined an 0-2 pitch back up the middle to score Burruss before Shawn Payne was hit by a pitch to put runners on first and second.

Kevin Bowles lifted a 3-1 pitch to the track in right-center, and didn’t stop until reaching third with a triple that drove in Williams with Payne, who scored from first on the play, not far behind for a 5-1 GSU lead.

            Another homer by the Bucs – a solo shot by nine-hole hitter Drew Woodall in the third – cut it to 5-2, but a Blackburn double and an A.J. Wirnsberger single in the bottom of the fourth drove in runs got them right back.

            “We’re just picking each other up and doing what we do,” said Hennon. “We want to continue that, we want to keep playing with some confidence right now and some momentum.”

            The Eagles tacked on one more with an RBI double by Randy J. Williams in the fifth to go up 8-2, but CSU climbed back in during the top of the sixth.

            A two-run homer by Chinners cut the score in half, and the Buccaneers got two more on an RBI single by pinch hitter Walt Quattlebaum that brought them within two at 8-6.

            That was as close as they would get.

            The Eagles spread four more runs over the last three innings on six hits including a Roache RBI double in the eighth.

            A solo home run by Derek Smith – CSU’s fourth long ball of the game – was good for the final margin.

            The Eagles will look to keep the winning streak intact when they travel to Davidson for a three-game Southern Conference series starting Thursday in Davidson, N.C. Mathematically, GSU is still in the running for a regular-season SoCon title.

            “Right now we’re playing with a lot of confidence, and we’re a dangerous team when we’re confident,” said Bowles. “You want to play calm every day – play calm and play loose – and we’ve been doing that. Good results have been coming.”

 

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