Battling from behind hasn’t been much of a problem for the Eagles lately.
Trailing a pesky Wofford team 9-8 after five and a half innings Sunday, Georgia Southern rallied for five runs in the sixth and three more in the seventh to secure a 16-9 win and its first Southern Conference series sweep. The Eagles have won seven straight.
“It wasn’t tough because that’s how we’ve been playing the last seven games,” said freshman third baseman A.J. Wirnsberger, who was 4-for-5 with a career-high seven RBIs, a three-run homer and a pair of doubles. "We have been having to battle through everything."
Kyle Kamppi provided stability out of the bullpen, holding the Terriers (21-24, 4-13) scoreless over the final three innings. Offensively, Chris Shehan was 3-for-5 with two RBIs while Jeremy Beckham, Mike Economos and Will Southwell added two hits each. Jeremiah Parker was 1-for-5 with a two-run home run in the first to keep his 14-game hitting streak alive.
With the sweep, the Eagles (27-22, 8-10) moved into a sixth-place tie with The Citadel in the conference standings. The Bulldogs were swept by first-place College of Charleston this weekend. Georgia Southern has just over three weeks remaining before the SoCon tournament begins May 22 in Charleston, S.C.
“Today was good,” said Kamppi, who picked up his third save. “We’ve been going strong, pitching with a lot of confidence and our guys are hitting well. We’ve just got to keep doing it. We’re just taking one step of the ladder at a time to get back up top where we belong.”
The Eagles were up 5-1 after the second inning but Wofford kept clawing away and eventually took a 6-5 lead in the fourth when designated hitter Shane Kirkley slammed a three-run homer – his first of two Sunday - off reliever Josh Lairsey.
GSU regained the lead in the fifth when Wirnsberger sent the payoff pitch to left center for a two-run double and Brian Pierce followed with a run-scoring double to right, making the score 8-6 GSU. Wofford climbed back on top the next inning on Kirkley’s second three-run bomb, this time off reliever David Cogswell.
The Eagles answered yet again as Matt Miller opened the sixth with a leadoff walk, Parker was hit by a pitch and pinch hitter Griffin Benedict drew a walk to load the bases with no outs. Georgia Southern then took the lead for good with Shehan’s two-run single, and two batters later Wirnsberger’s second homer this year bounced off the scoreboard for a 13-9 Eagle lead.
GSU picked up three insurance runs with two outs in the seventh on Southwell’s two-run single and Wirnsberger’s RBI base hit.
“We’ve been doing the same stuff we have the last couple of weeks — gelling together, coming back as a team and playing hard,” Wirnsberger said. “It’s a great feeling, especially after our losing stretch. Being able to win seven in a row is a big boost to the ball club.”
Cogswell (3-0) earned the win, allowing one earned run on three hits in one inning. He struck out two. Eagle starter Brian Wilkerson lasted 3.1 innings, surrendering five earned runs on eight hits.
Wofford reliever Adam Kearney (2-4) took the loss, giving up two earned runs and no hits in 1/3 of an inning. The Terriers out-hit Georgia Southern 18-16, led by Kirkley’s four hits and six RBIs.
The Eagles host Davidson next weekend for a three-game Southern Conference series beginning Friday at 7 p.m.
Alex Pellegrino can be reached at (912) 489-9413.