CULLOWHEE, N.C. – Jeremiah Parker hit a ninth inning home run but that would be the only offense for Georgia Southern as the Eagles dropped a 4-1 decision Friday night at Western Carolina. The Eagles (32-25 overall, 12-13 Southern Conference) dropped their seventh SoCon opener in the nine league series.
The loss, coupled with Appalachian State losing to UNC Greensboro and The Citadel losing at Furman, kept the Eagles in a tie for fifth place and a game ahead of Citadel with two league games remaining.
Georgia Southern dodged a run in the first inning. Leadoff hitter Barrett Shaft reached on a fielding error. Aaron Eubanks struck out the next two batters. Leading hitter Kenny Smith lined a shot to centerfield but Matt Miller made a diving catch to his right and ended the inning.
John Ingram hit a 2-run homer in the second inning. With two outs, Barrett Shaft lined a RBI single down the right field line spotting the Catamounts to a 3-0 lead.
The Catamounts threatened again in the sixth. Eubanks recorded two quick outs but Nick Liles doubled and Adam Baker walked. Brent Greer hit a sharp grounder into the hole at shortstop and Brian Pierce’s throw to second bounced away. First baseman Will Southwell recovered the loose ball and fired home to Jeremiah Parker, who tagged Liles out to end the inning.
Steven Strausbaugh lined a sacrifice fly in the seventh inning off Kyle Kamppi for a 4-0 lead.
The Eagles avoided the shutout when Parker hammered a shot to left centerfield. His eighth homer of the year, a leadoff blast off Chris Masters, made it 4-1. Justin Klinger walked but Masters struck out Chris Shehan for the first out. Closer Greg Holland fanned the two batters he faced to end the game.
Eubanks (3-4) turned in his sixth quality start of the season, giving up three runs on eight hits in six innings but suffered the loss.
The junior left-hander walked one and struck out four. David Cogswell pitched a scoreless eighth.
Mike Economos and Shehan banged out two hits apiece.
Tyler Sexton (8-2) scattered six hits in seven scoreless innings. He did not issue a walk and fanned eight.
Holland earned his league-leading 10th save. Four different Catamounts recorded two hits. Ingram tallied two RBI.
Game two of the series is set for Friday night (May 18) at 7 p.m.
Georgia Southern will close out the regular season the following day at 2 p.m.
The Eagles are currently one and a half games behind UNC-Greensboro. They lead the Citadel by one game and Furman by two.