Georgia Southern broke open a close game scoring four runs in the eighth inning en route to a 6-2 win over Davidson, Friday night at J.I. Clements Stadium. The Eagles (28-22 overall, 9-10 SoCon) won their eighth straight overall and sixth consecutive in league play.
Ahead 2-1, the Eagles batted around during the eighth inning against relief pitcher Zach Kayne. Kyle Blackburn drew a leadoff walk then Chris Hollis entered as a pinch-runner. Chris Shehan doubled to left, putting two runners in scoring position with no one out. Will Southwell lined a 2-run double to left. He later advanced to second on a wild pitch.
With A.J. Wirnsberger at bat, Kayne sailed a pitch to the backstop. Southwell tried scoring but Tommy Piacenza was able to throw to Kayne at the plate in time for the putout. Wirnsberger eventually walked then when Brian Pierce singled he went to third. Jeremy Beckham recorded a RBI groundout and Mike Economos followed with a run-scoring single for a 6-1 lead.
Georgia Southern starter Aaron Eubanks got two quick outs to open the game. However, Davidson used consecutive singles and a walk to load the bases. The junior left-hander struck Blake Osborn out on a called third strike to end the threat.
With one out in the second inning, Shehan lined the first pitch he saw from Rob Wilson (2-7) over the left field fence. His team-leading ninth homer not only gave the Eagles a 1-0 lead but extended his hitting streak to 11 games.
The 90 minute rain delay to start the game, and wet outfield conditions, played a role in the third inning. Matt Miller lined a double to left field. Gregory Zage slipped while going after the ball and had to come out of the game. Jeremiah Parker lined a shot down the left field line. Pat Brady, who replaced Zage in left field, slipped right before catching the ball and Parker ended up with a RBI double. That extended the Eagles lead to 2-0 and Parker’s personal-best hitting streak to 15 games.
Osborn lined a RBI single in the sixth inning to make it a 2-1 game. He advanced to second on the throw home and third on a groundout, but Eubanks got a ground ball to end the inning.
The Wildcats (17-27, 6-13) threatened by putting a runner in scoring position with one out in the seventh and eighth inning but Kyle Kamppi entered the game in the seventh and was able to work out of both jams. Matt Webb recorded a two-out RBI single in the ninth for the final margin.
“Both teams had to deal with the field conditions. We did have a good idea what we were dealing with having worked on the field (during pre-game),” said Shehan. “(During the eighth inning double) I was jammed on a first pitch fastball during my previous at-bat. I figured they would try and throw another so I tried to sit on it and drive it. Will’s (Southwell) 2-run double ended up being a really big hit… We’re doing a good job right now offensively just feeding off each other. We know someone will step up and get a big hit.”
Eubanks (3-2) won his second straight decision, giving up one run on seven hits in 6.2 innings. He walked two and struck out six. Kamppi fanned two in 1.1 innings of relief.
Shehan ended the night 3-for-3 with two runs scored. Pierce and Miller added two hits apiece and Southwell drove in two runs.
Wilson gave up just two runs on seven hits in seven innings of work. He walked four and struck out four. Kayne, Brady and Osborn had two hits apiece for the Wildcats.
Game two of the series is scheduled for a 6 p.m. start on Saturday at J.I. Clements Stadium.