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Eagles all over WCU in SoCon opener
GSU bats stay hot
Georgia Southern pitcher Drew Murray, left, tags out Western Carolina's Blake Murphy after Murphy hit short grounder in the fourth Friday.
    Georgia Southern’s offense isn’t showing signs of slowing down anytime soon.
    The Eagles once again crushed their opponents at the plate, this time banging out 18 hits in their Southern Conference opener to hammer Western Carolina 19-10 Friday night at J.I. Clements Stadium.
It was the third-straight win for the Eagles (12-8, 1-0), who have won six of their last eight. GSU has cranked out an astonishing 112 runs in those six victories and plated at least 17 runs in four of its last five games.
    “You’ve got to throw it up for the offense — they are pretty legit,” said winning pitcher Drew Murray, who improved to 2-0 on the year.
    Georgia Southern’s high-powered offense was hot from the get-go as the Eagles jumped out to a 4-0 lead in the first thanks to Griffin Benedict’s two-run single, an RBI groundout by Jeremiah Parker and David Richardson’s RBI sacrifice fly.
    By the second inning, GSU owned a 9-1 advantage on the strength of A.J. Wirnsberger’s second-career grand slam — a two-out, 1-0 pitch he launched over the left field fence. Richardson followed with a solo shot to left, his fourth bomb in four games. His four home runs this year tied his career total.
    “It’s always good to come out as aggressive as we did today,” said senior second baseman Jeremy Beckham, one of seven Eagles to register at least two hits Friday. “When we get good pitches in the zone we crush them.”
    The Catamounts (6-12, 0-1) pulled with four on shortstop Brent Greer’s three-run homer in the fourth and center fielder J.C. Lyons’ solo shot in the fifth, but the Eagles roared back with eight runs over the next two innings.
    The rally began when GSU left fielder Phillip Porter extended his hitting streak to 14 games with a RBI single in the fifth to chase Western starter Tyler Sexton and give the Eagles a 10-5 lead. Chris Shehan welcomed reliever Brandon Johnson with a two-run double, and Johnson was done for the evening after plunking Benedict, the next batter. Three of GSU’s five sixth-inning runs came on consecutive two-out RBI singles by Benedict, Parker and pinch hitter Will Southwell.
    Shehan led the Eagles at the plate, going 4-for-5 with four runs scored and two RBIs, while Porter, Benedict, Parker, Wirnsberger and Richardson joined Beckham with two hits apiece.
    Murray, a junior right hander, allowed four earned runs and five hits over five innings in his first Friday-night start of the season. He struck out five and walked four. Sexton (0-3) took the loss after giving up 11 earned runs on 10 hits in 4.1 innings. Greer and Lyons had three hits each for Western.
Notes: Centerfielder Matt Miller remains day-to-day after fouling a ball off his leg on March 12. Richardson started in Miller’s place. …Subway is sponsoring the Clements Tailgate prior to today’s 2:30 p.m. game. The event is free and open to the public. …Redshirt freshman right hander Andy Moye (2-2, 5.75) will take the mound for the Eagles today against WCU junior lefty Drew Saberhagen (0-2, 5.09). …Beckham’s two hits matched his career total against the Catamounts. He was 0-for-14 against Western last year.

    Alex Pellegrino can be reached at (912) 489-9413.