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Grand slam lifts Samford past Eagles

    BIRMINGHAM, Ala. — Georgia Southern (11-8, 3-1) fell to the Samford Bulldogs (14-6, 4-0) 5-4 in the series opener on Friday  at Joe Lee Griffin Stadium.
    A grand slam by Saxon Butler erased an outstanding pitching performance by Chris Beck and gave Samford its first victory over the Eagles in 11 tries. GSU jumped ahead 4-0 early, but a solo shot by the Bulldogs in the fourth inning and a grand slam in the eighth proved the difference.
    Two walks and an error loaded the bases without an out in the eighth inning for Samford. The next hitter at the plate, Butler, sent a pitch over the left-field wall for his third home run of the year to put the Bulldogs on top 5-4. Matt Murray, who came on in relief of Beck, recorded three straight outs to end the inning.
    Beck threw seven solid innings and carried a no-hitter into the fourth inning, but left the game after walking the first two batters he faced in the eighth inning. Beck was on the line for his third win of the year, but received a no decision after the home run by Butler put Samford on top. The sophomore pitcher allowed three hits, three runs, four walks and struck out five in seven innings.
    Kyle Putkonen picked up the win for Samford, allowing one earned run on six hits in eight innings of work. Putkonen struck out nine batters and walked three. Four Bulldog errors allowed three unearned runs to cross the plate for GSU.
    The Eagles jumped out to a 4-0 lead before a solo shot by Samford's Brandon Miller in the bottom of the fourth inning broke up Beck's no-hit bid. GSU scored single runs in the second and third innings and got two runners across the plate in the fourth inning.
    GSU's two-out hitting success continued in the second inning. Andy Moye, who doubled after two quick outs in the inning, came around to score the first run of the game on a single by Ben Morgan. Another two-out double in the third inning led to another run. Steve Cochrane doubled into the right-center gap and scored on a throwing error during the next at-bat.
    Samford appeared to have blown its chances after loading the bases in the sixth inning and not scoring a run. A fielder's choice erased a lead-off base hit in the sixth inning. A double and an intentional walk of Miller loaded the bases with two outs before a ground out to first base ended the inning.
    GSU and Samford will meet again today at 3 p.m. and on Sunday at 2 p.m.