First Pitch of 2011 Season Set for Friday Night
STATESBORO, Ga. - The Georgia Southern Baseball team opens up its 2011 season Friday night against George Washington. First pitch in the three-game series is set for 6 p.m. at J.I. Clements Stadium. Baseball will open its 68th season at home for the third-straight year and the 14th time in the last 15 years.
GW, one of the first opponents to play at the newly renovated J.I. Clements Stadium, was the second-ever team to play at Jack Stallings Field and were the opponent when the field was dedicated on February 19, 2005. Georgia Southern beat the Colonials 9-8 that day for the first victory in the newly renovated stadium.
The Eagles will look to get off on the right foot in the new year by playing 14 of their first 16 games at home. Georgia Southern will face three different ranked opponents during that stretch and playing host to #19 Georgia Tech on February 22-23rd and #23 St. Johns on March 4-6th.
Head Baseball Coach Rodney Hennon enters his 12th season as the skipper of the Georgia Southern Baseball Program. Under Hennon's guidance, the Eagles have won at least 30 games every year and have done so for 11-straight seasons. Hennon joins legendary coach Jack Stallings as the only coaches in Georgia Southern history to record more than 10 straight 30-win seasons. He ranks 41st among active NCAA Division I head coaches with a 62.2 winning percentage.
Five position starters and two-thirds of the Eagles' weekend rotation return from a team that went 34-24 in 2010. Georgia Southern will add 15 newcomers to the mix and will have a new look in the infield this season. GSU returns the entire outfield, but only shortstop Eric Phillips (Carrollton, Ga.) returns on the infield.
GSU was selected to finish second by the Southern Conference coaches in their annual preseason coaches poll. The Eagles finished with 81 points and tied with Elon for the second spot. Shawn Payne (Stone Mountain, Ga.) and Phillips represented Georgia Southern on the Preseason All-Conference Teams. Payne was a first-team selection in the outfield, while Phillips was selected to the second team at shortstop.
Payne, who hit .345 with 15 doubles and five home runs last year, was named to the All-SoCon Second Team in 2010. The senior outfielder was a 44th-round pick by the Kansas City Royals this past summer after stealing 43 bases in 45 attempts. Payne nabbed 38 bases before being caught for the first time.
Phillips was a Second Team All-SoCon Selection last season after hitting .342 with seven home runs and 56 RBIs. The junior infielder tied with Kyle Blackburn for the longest hit streak on the team last year. He collected a hit in 14-straight games and batted .455 with three homers during that stretch.
GSU has faced GW only five times, but the all-time series dates back to 1957 when the Eagles won 5-3. The two teams met again in 1983 for another single game and played a three-game series in 2005. The Colonials took the opener 10-5, defeating current Director of Baseball Operations, Dustin Evans. The Eagles bounced back and won the series with a 9-8 victory on Saturday and a 6-3 win on Sunday.
Georgia Southern will welcome back former Georgia College Head Coach Steve Mrowka who took over the George Washington baseball program in 2005. Mrowka was the skipper in Milledgeville for 11 years before the move to the nation's capital.
Chris Beck (Jefferson, Ga.), who was recently named the second-best prospect in the SoCon by Baseball America, will be the season-opening starter for the Eagles. The sophomore pitcher finished last year with a 2-4 record and an 8.31 ERA. Beck will square off against fellow sophomore Brian Derner. Derner, a left hander, finished last season with a 2-1 record and an 8.10 ERA.
Newcomer Josh Adams (Bath, S.C.) has been tabbed as the Saturday starter and coach Hennon will announce the Sunday starter later. Adams joins the team from Spartanburg Methodist. He and his former teammate Marty Gantt, who signed with the College of Charleston, were named the top two newcomers in the Southern Conference by Baseball America.
George Washington will counter with senior pitcher Joe Richardson on Saturday and their second lefty Bobby Lucas Jr., on Sunday. Richardson posted a 7-4 record with a 5.09 ERA last year, while Lucas Jr. was 0-1 with a 6.75 ERA.
Season tickets are currently on sale through the Georgia Southern Athletic Ticket Office at 800-GSU-WINS.
All baseball games can be heard on Fox Sports 106.5 FM in Statesboro and online at GeorgiaSouthernEagles.com/Eaglevision beginning 30 minutes prior to first pitch. Ryan Chambers of the Georgia Southern Radio Network will have the call live from J.I. Clements Stadium all weekend.
Fans may follow Georgia Southern Baseball by visiting GeorgiaSouthernEagles.com/baseball or check in at twitter.com/GSAthletics or facebook.com/GSAthletics for short updates.
- Category: Baseball
- Published on Thursday, 17 February 2011 16:32