Though the end of the game was not without controversy, North Florida rattled off 12 hits and cruised to a 5-2 win in Georgia Southern’s home finale on Tuesday at J.I. Clements Stadium.
The Eagles appeared to have loaded the bases with no outs in the bottom of the ninth, but when Zac Lenns grounded to UNF shortstop Kyle Brooks, who made a tough play and tossed it to second, Brent Pugh was ruled out after having appeared to beat the throw with a slide.
GSU coach Rodney Hennon argued the call, but to no avail.
“Obviously, I disagreed with the call,” Hennon said. “But that’s part of the game.”
Ben Morgan struck out and Chase Griffin popped out to end the ballgame.
T.D. Davis cut into the UNF led in the bottom of the sixth with a two-run homer.
Ben Morgan got on with a one-out single through the left side, and stole second before Davis knocked a line drive over the fence.
The Eagles (25-26) loaded the bases with one out in the seventh inning, but Lenns popped out to shallow left and Morgan grounded out to the pitcher to end the threat.
Runners were stranded on second and third in the eighth, and the Eagles, who recorded nine hits, stranded 10 runners in the game.
“We put ourselves behind the eight ball early, but as the game went on we started stringing some hits together,” Hennon said. “We had some opportunities, and we’ve just got to take advantage of them. When you get the bases loaded and one out, you’ve got to get something out of an inning like that. Tonight we didn’t.”
The Ospreys put up two runs in the first and two more in the second.
Back-to-back, RBI doubles by Tyler Marincov and Donnie Dewees gave UNF an early 2-0 lead, and increased the lead to 4-0 in the second when an RBI single drove in Joe Wielbruda and Spencer Herrmann scored on a fielding error by GSU third baseman Pugh.
Herrmann drove in a run in the fifth to make it 5-0.
Matt McCall got the start for GSU, going just 1.1 innings and allowing four runs on four hits.
Chris Meyers came in the second. He pitched a career-high 3.1 innings, allowing a run on four hits.
Evan Challenger went the rest of the way, pitching 4.1 scoreless innings, allowing four hits and striking out one.
“That was good to see from Evan, especially as we get ready to head to the tournament," Hennon said. "To see him go out and pitch as well as he did, that could be big for us come tournament time.”
The Eagles have three games remaining - a three-game series on the road at College of Charleston - before the Southern Conference tournament begins on Wednesday, May 22, at Fluor Field in Greenville, S.C.
“One thing tonight that I saw that I liked, the couple of bunts that we got down, some things that we’re going to have to do this weekend and next week in the tournament, it was good to see tonight. We’re showing some signs there of some positive things offensively.”
Matt Yogus may be reached at (912) 489-9408.