Image by Courtesy of Southern Conference The evasive move by Shawn Payne proved to be key in GSU's one-run win.
The College of Charleston was doing it right, winning its 1 p.m. game against Georgia Southern; however, the 5 p.m. follow match against Georgia proved to be too much. Despite a late rally, Charleston fell 7-6, and that gave Georgia a 2-1 game edge over Charleston.
Georgia now advances to the championship game in the Southern Conference Baseball Championship (35-24) today, May 29, at 2 p.m. The winner will claim stake to conference's automatic bid to the NCAA tournament.
If you'd like to go to tonight's game, tickets may still be available for $10. (843) 953-3647.
A press release from the night's game is below, and you can get the box score over here. The Post and Courier has a solid write-up as well.
The Eagles will attempt to win their fifth SoCon tournament title tomorrow against Samford.
"This is a resilient group," said Georgia Southern head coach Rodney Hennon. "They have been that way all year long. They showed a lot of character today bouncing back in that second game. Charleston is a great club; we had to battle all day long, and it sure wasn't easy."
Josh Adams earned the win for Georgia Southern today to improve to 9-6 on the season after throwing a career-high 7.1 innings. Adams struck out five hitters and gave up five runs, four earned, on seven hits and five walks.
Starting pitcher Casey Lucchese picked up the loss for the Cougars after tossing 3.1 innings and giving up four runs on seven hits and one walk while striking out four. Lucchese falls to 3-2 on the season.
Victor Roache led the Eagle offense with a homerun and two RBIs and one run scored on a 2-for-3 showing at the plate. Shawn Payne batted 2-for-4 for GSU with a RBI while scoring twice.
Leading the Cougars offensive attack was Cole Rakar, who went 2-for-4 from the plate with an RBI. Marty Gantt knocked in four of the Cougars' runs while hitting 1-for-3 and scoring once himself.
College of Charleston (39-22) jumped on Georgia Southern's pitcher Josh Adams early in the game by scoring twice in the second inning. Daniel Aldrich started the CofC second with a double to left center and came around to score the first run of the game when Rob Harding followed with a double of his own two batters later. After an Eagle error to keep the inning alive for Charleston, Cole Rakar brought home the next run with an RBI single through the left side.
Georgia Southern would even the score in the bottom of the third, highlighted by a Victor Roache single. Payne and Eric Phillips led off the inning with back-to-back singles, and Payne scored the Eagles' initial run on a single by Roache. Phillips would steal third for GSU and eventually score when Steve Cochrane hit into a double play.
The Eagles would take the lead in the fourth inning after plating three more runs. The scoring began when Payne tripled to right field with a runner on first base. After the first GSU run, Charleston pulled Lucchese and put in Nick Osterman to cool the Eagles' bats. Payne would score on Phillips' sacrifice fly. Roache followed Phillips by blasting his NCAA-leading 30th homerun of the season to left center and give the Eagles the 5-2 lead.
GSU added a couple of vital insurance runs in the seventh to make the lead 7-2. After Michael Burruss led off the inning with a walk, Ben Morgan doubled Burruss home to push the first run across the plate. Morgan scored the second run of the inning when he stole third and advanced home the throwing error by the catcher.
College of Charleston mounted a comeback in the eighth inning but fell just short after only scoring four runs. The Cougars loaded the bases with a single, hit by a pitch and a walk. With one out, Gantt come to the plate and lined a grand slam over the right field wall to close the Eagle lead to 7-6. However, Charleston was not able to plate anymore runners the rest of the game.
Jarrett Leverett pitched the final 1.2 innings to pick up his second save of the season for the Eagles.