Samford University’s baseball team beat Georgia Southern, 5-4, on Friday night to win at J.I. Clements Stadium for the first time in the Birmingham, Ala., program’s history.
The Bulldogs (31-16 overall, 17-8 Southern Conference) are 9-1 at J.I. Clements Stadium. GSU (25-22, 11-11) leads the series, 42-12.
Samford tied the game at 4 in the sixth inning when C.K. Irby singled to drive in Phillip Ervin. Tommy Corbin singled to bring in Irby and give the Bulldogs a 5-4 lead they never relinquished.
“They earned what they got tonight, and it was one of those one-run games where you get another hit here or there, that’s the difference,” GSU head coach Rodney Hennon said. “We’ve just got to pick ourselves up and focus on coming out here and playing good baseball tomorrow.”
The three-game series will continue at 2:30 p.m. today with GSU right-hander Justin Hess (3-2, 4.76 earned-run average) scheduled to start against Samford right-hander Josh Martin (8-1, 3.34 ERA). At 1:30 p.m. Sunday, GSU right-hander Will Middour (2-3, 4.17 ERA) is slated to start against a Samford player to be named later. The Eagles are wearing camouflage caps as part of GSU’s military appreciation weekend.
A crowd of 1,242 watched as GSU starter Chris Beck (4-6) registered the loss. The 6-foot-3, 235-pound junior right-hander struck out three, walked one and allowed five runs (all earned) on 10 hits in six inning. He threw 96 pitches.
“You have to give Samford credit,” Hennon said. “They took some good swings. I thought they had a good approach against Chris. He just didn’t get a lot of swings and misses tonight. Had a hard time putting their guys away and sometimes you’ve got to give credit to the other team. They’ve got some experienced hitters in the middle (of the order) and got some big hits.”
In the first inning, Samford’s Saxon Butler hit an RBI single up the middle to give the Bulldogs a 1-0 lead.
GSU tied the game at 1 in the second inning when Brent Pugh singled off Samford starter Charles Basford to advance Tyler Avera to third base, and Avera scored on a throwing error by Samford right fielder Brandon Miller. GSU’s Scooter Williams singled and Eric Phillips scored on a fielder’s choice to give the Eagles a 2-1 lead.
GSU’s Avera doubled to drive in Stryker Brown and give the Eagles a 3-1 lead in the third inning.
Samford hit back-to-back home runs off GSU’s Beck in the fourth inning to tie the game at 3. Phillip Ervin hit Beck’s first-pitch fastball into the foul pole in left field and the ball ricocheted fair over the fence. Brandon Miller homered to right-center and set Samford’s single-season record with his 18th homer, passing Jim Morgan’s 17 homers in 1997.
The consecutive homers were the first Beck allowed since his freshman season against Clemson, and they marked only the third multi-homer game against Beck.
GSU’s Phillips homered to left field off Basford in the fourth inning to give the Eagles a 4-3 lead. It was GSU’s first home run since April 15, when Chase Griffin homered.
In the ninth inning, GSU’s Williams hit a ball to the warning track in right field for the second out. Michael Burruss struck out to end the game.
Samford’s Basford (8-1) earned the win. The 6-foot-2, 214-pound senior right-hander struck out one, walked three and allowed four runs (three earned) on nine hits in 6 1/3 innings. He threw 98 pitches. Right-hander Arthur Strauss struck out two in an inning of work to earn his second save for the Bulldogs.
GSU left eight runners on base. Phillips finished 2-for-3 with a home run and RBI. Griffin was 2-for-4.
“I thought we did some good things out there tonight as well,” Hennon said. “We executed some things, offensively, and had a couple of other opportunities with runners at third and less than two outs where we didn’t cash in.”
Noell Barnidge may be reached at (912) 489-9408.