Victor Roache made himself at home in the cleanup spot.
The sophomore right fielder moved to the fourth spot in Georgia Southern’s batting order, and eased right in Friday finishing 2-for-4, driving in a run and scoring twice in the Eagles’ 4-3 win in Game 1 against The Citadel.
Saturday at J.I. Clements Stadium, the floodgates opened.
Roache pounded three home runs — numbers eight, nine and 10 on the season — drove in six, scored four times and added a double as GSU took Game 2 and the series against the Bulldogs with a 15-2 final.
"I’m feeling pretty good right now," said Roache about the new spot in the order after spending much of the season in the five hole. "I’m seeing the ball, taking aggressive swings and trying to keep it rolling at the plate. You can’t think about your last at-bat or think about your next at-bat. You just have to think about the present at-bat."
It all got started in the first inning. With two outs, shortstop Eric Phillips drew a four-pitch walk. Roache’s first homer drove in Phillips and made it 2-0.
Michael Burruss singled and Steve Cochrane doubled him in, and Cochrane scored on an error to make it 4-0 after one.
Roache homered again in the second, driving in second baseman Ben Morgan, who reached with an RBI single that drove in third baseman Brent Pugh in the three-run second inning.
At the end of the day, the Eagles (17-11, 8-3 Southern Conference) pounded out 21 hits. Roache wasn’t the only Eagle crossing the plate multiple times, as Phillips, Burruss and Cochrane each scored twice.
"When you’ve got one through nine getting hits, it adds a lot of confidence," said Burruss, who went 4-for-5 with a triple. "Not just getting one, but two or three hits, guys just seeing the ball, it’s nice."
Centerfielder Shawn Payne, catcher Tom Richardson and Pugh also had a multi-hit game.
Josh Adams (5-3), who suffered a narrow 3-2 loss last Saturday at Charleston, picked up his fifth win of the season, pitching 6.1 innings, striking out three and allowing two runs on five hits.
The Citadel (10-17, 5-9) started February’s SoCon Pitcher of the Month Austin Pritcher (3-3). The Eagles made quick work, tagging him with seven runs, six earned, on seven hits in 1.2 innings of work. Georgia Southern faced four Bulldog pitchers and scored on all of them.
Will Middour allowed no runs and no hits in 1.2 innings of relief for GSU, and freshman lefty Taylor Burk shut the door in the ninth by forcing three-straight popouts.
The Eagles will send Andy Moye, who played third base Friday and started Saturday as the designated hitter, to the mound today at 1:30 p.m. as GSU looks for the sweep.
The Citadel, the defending champion of the SoCon, ended the 2010 regular season with a three-game sweep over the Eagles at Clements Stadium.
"We definitely owe them some payback," said Roache. "We know we have to come out and do what we have to do, but we have a chance to do good things in the SoCon if we take care of business."
: After the football team’s morning scrimmage, GSU football head coach Jeff Monken threw out the game’s first pitch. … Announced attendance was 2,372. … Roache’s three homers gave him 10 on the year put him in a second-place tie in the nation for home runs on the season. … The last time the Eagles took a three-game series from The Citadel was 2008, taking two of three at home. … With Elon’s loss to UNC Greensboro Saturday, the Eagles moved within a game back of the Phoenix in the SoCon standings.
Matt Yogus can be reached at (912) 489-9408.