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Samford strikes first in soggy series with 7-2 victory

        Nearly 24 hours after their three-game series was slated to begin, Samford battled through cold, damp conditions to claim a 7-2 victory over Georgia Southern.
    Samford starting pitcher Alex Ledford was masterful for the Bulldogs (23-15, 8-5 SoCon), pitching 7 1/3 innings of two-hit ball. Ledford struck out seven Eagles (26-14, 8-8) and exited with a lead after allowing just two earned runs.
    Parker Curry came on in relief for Samford and recorded his first save of the season by picking up the final five outs.
    GSU assistant coach B.J. Green — filling in for coach Rodney Hennon as he served the second game of his four-game suspension — praised Ledford’s efforts in shutting down the Georgia Southern bats.
    “(Ledford) did a good job,” Green said. “He's got a two-seamer that sinks and he was using it well. That makes it hard to get a big inning off of him. We wish we could have done a better job of stringing hits together, but you've got to give credit to him.”
    Sam Howard was equally impressive as the GSU starter, but picked up the tough luck loss to drop his record to 4-5 on the season.
    Howard struck out the side in the first inning and totaled seven punch-outs in six-plus innings of work.
    The Eagles were the first to blink as Caleb Bryson singled to right field. Two batters later, Tripp Martin launched a two-out double off the base of the wall in center field. GSU got the ball in quickly, but Bryson slid under the tag of Chase Griffin for a 1-0 Bulldog lead.
    Georgia Southern answered right back in the bottom of the fifth with an RBI double of its own.
    Stryker Brown drew a one-out walk and Dalton Busby drove a 2-2 fastball off the wall in right field to knot the game at 1-1.
    Samford took the lead for good in the sixth with more two-out production.
    After Howard retired the first two batters of the frame Tyler Filliben drew a walk and Drew McWhorter followed with a single up the middle. Howard jammed Heath Quinn with a fastball, but Heath muscled it into shallow right to bring Filliben home.
    “There are a couple of pitches where I know (Howard) wished he would have made a better pitch,” Green said. “One was on that pitch to Quinn. But now he's got to bear down, come back on short rest next week and be ready to give us another good game.”
    Howard started the seventh, but was pulled when Brandon Powell reached base on an error. Eric Alonzo came on in relief and served up a long two-run home run to Hunter Swilling to make it 4-1 Samford.
    Kody Adams got the Eagles within 4-2 with an RBI infield single in the eighth, but Curry escaped with no further damage and Samford tacked on three more runs — two of them unearned — against Eagle reliever Jason Richman in the ninth.
    GSU and Samford will try to complete all three scheduled games of the series as a doubleheader is slated to begin at Noon today.
    “I think that tomorrow is a great opportunity,” Green said. “We don't have to sit around and stew on (Saturday's loss) for long. We can come out and win a series in one day.”
        Mike Anthony may be reached at (912) 489-9404.