A nightmarish inning that featured 12 batters, five walks, four hits and five different pitchers put Georgia Southern in an early hole from which it couldn’t recover.
Kennesaw State plated six runs in the frame - two coming across via bases loaded walks - and rolled to a 12-3 victory on a chilly Tuesday night at J.I. Clements Stadium.
“You give up a six-run inning and it’s hard to win, especially when we’ve had our struggles offensively,” GS coach Rodney Hennon said. “We just didn’t give ourselves much of a chance. We have the bad inning on the mound and we continued to not swing the bats and make good contact.”
David Johnson began the game with three strikeouts over two scoreless innings, but was then lifted in a scheduled short midweek start.
Hayden Harris worked a clean third innings, but the wheels came flying off in the fourth. LaDonis Bryant and Kaden Bramlett sandwiched doubles around a Garrett Hodges single before Daniel Seres lofted a sacrifice fly to make it 2-0 and chase Harris from the game.
Zach Cowart entered and surrendered a first-pitch double to David Chabut. He then walked Tyler SImon on four pitches and got a quick hook. Nick Jones entered from the bullpen and walked the only two batters he faced, the second forcing in a run. Austin Kleinlein took his turn on the mound and got an out via sacrifice fly, but then issued two more free passes.
Braxton Johns was then brought on, ending the inning with a quick two-pitch foul out.
“There’s nothing I can tell them (about throwing strikes),” Hennon said. “There’s nothing (pitching coach B.J.) Green can tell them. They know they have to throw strikes. They have to execute.”
Johns was, by far, the Eagles' most effective pitcher on the night. The Statesboro High graduate worked three more innings after getting Georgia Southern out of its disastrous fourth frame. Johns struck out three, but finally made a mistake when Bramlett launched a two-run home run to left in the seventh inning.
A small bright spot came in the bottom of the fourth with Chandler Corley smoked his third home run of the year over the wall in left.
The Eagles also got runs batted in from Mason McWhorter and Jason Swan, but Bramlett' homer made it an 8-2 game and the Owl offense piled on four more insurance runs in the top of the ninth.
With a huge Sun Belt series at South Alabama looming over the weekend, the Eagles will need to shake off Tuesday’s loss in a hurry.
“If they want to bring the same approach into the weekend, we’ll get our teeth kicked in,” Hennon said. “If we want to play with a little more pride - and that begins tomorrow at practice - then we can compete. We have to have a little more pride and a little more attitude.”
Despite running into trouble in midweek games, the Eagles have done well for themselves in the opening weeks of Sun Belt play.
The Eagles took an early series from UL Lafayette and swept Appalachian State. Coastal Carolina handed Georgia Southern its first series loss in conference play, but the Eagles bounced back to take the only two games played in a shortened series at Little Rock last weekend.
Now comes a trip to South Alabama.
The Jaguars broke the Eagles' hearts in a wild SBC championship game last season and were the favorites to repeat as champs this season. South Alabama will welcome the Eagles to Mobile as it looks up at Georgia Southern from a game back in the standings.