Eagles End Season at Fullerton
FULLERTON, Calif. For just the second time this year, Georgia Southern lost when leading after seven innings as Utah rallied for an 11-10 win Saturday at the NCAA Fullerton Regional. The 29th-ranked Eagles end their season at 42-17.
Georgia Southern, the second-seed in the regional, had a 9-4 lead after the seventh inning but only to see the Utes (27-30) rally for six runs in the eighth and take the lead.
Down one in the ninth, Eric Phillips (Carrollton/Carrollton) drew a leadoff walk. Brian Pierce (Roswell/Roswell) dropped down a sac bunt but pitcher Greg Krause could not field the ball and the senior shortstop reached. Kevin Bowles (Statesboro/Statesboro) executed a sacrifice bunt to advance the runners then Ty Wright (Montrose/ABAC) hit a sacrifice fly to tie the game.
Charles Matthews (Athens/Spartanburg Methodist) got a grounder to start off the bottom of the ninth, but then hit Rick Cornu. He took second on a passed ball but Matthews struck out Cooper Blanc for the second out. Michael Beltran chopped the first pitch past a diving A.J. Wirnsberger (Tuscaloosa, AL/Paul Bryant) and Roman Grimaldi’s (Duluth/North Florida) throw was not in time as the Eagles saw their season end.
“It was a tough way to end the season, but I’m proud of my team and what we accomplished this year. I thought we got a great starting effort from Jake Brown. We got out of the gates good but did not get it done late. Give Utah credit, they got the big hits when they needed,” said head coach Rodney Hennon. “The thing that hurt us the last two games has been the big inning. Today it was in the eighth. We had control of the game but you have to pitch and make plays this time of year to win.”
The Eagles sent nine batters to the plate in the first inning. Wright hit a leadoff single to extend his hitting streak to 12 games, then Griffin Benedict (Dunwoody/St. Pius) hit a one-out RBI double. He scored on Phillip Porter’s (Marietta/Sprayberry) run-scoring single a base hit that extended his streak to 18 games - then later Wirnsberger added a sacrifice fly for a 3-0 lead.
Benedict hit his third homer of the regional, a solo shot in the second inning and a 4-0 lead. Corey Shrmada hit a solo homer in the third for the Utes but the Southern Conference Tournament champion Eagles responded right back.
After Benedict took sole possession of the season hit by pitch record with his 24th, on a hit-and-run Kyle Blackburn (Marietta/Walton) ripped a shot to right field. Cornu could not field it and Benedict came around to score. Phillips hit a RBI double just out of reach of centerfielder Blanc. Pierce followed with a RBI single making it 7-1.
The Utes took advantage of a throwing error in the fifth to score a run, then C.J. Cron hit a solo homer in the sixth cutting it to 7-3. Again, Wright and the Eagles answered.
Bowles drew a one-out walk. Wright followed with a shot that nearly cleared the wind screen beyond the 400-foot centerfield fence. His 13th home run put the Eagles ahead 9-3.
Utah got another run in the seventh thanks to a solo shot by Blanc. Jake Brown (Forest Hill, MD/Pitt CC) gave up two singles around an infield pop up, which prompted coach Hennon to bring in Dexter Bobo (Cumming/Darton College). He walked Nick Kuroczko to load the bases but got Cron on a flyball to Porter in right and end the threat.
Kyle Kamppi (Savannah/Benedictine) came on in the eighth inning and the Utes got a single to start it off. Kamppi struck out Austin Jones for the first out, but from there a double then 2-run single by Blanc made it 9-6. An error and three straight singles prompted a pitching change and a tie game. Cron lifted a sacrifice fly for the go-ahead run but Matthews got a strikeout to end the inning.
Wright finished with three hits, three RBI and two runs scored. His 73 runs scored this year ranks ninth on the season Top 10’. His .365 career batting average during his two-year career stands as the sixth-best average in program history.
Benedict finished with the team lead hitting 14 home runs. He went 2-for-4 with three runs and two RBI, ending the season with a .412 batting average tied for seventh-best in a season. He played in his 225th career game as an Eagle, tying for 10th place on that all-time list. Benedict also finished his career ranked sixth in runs (192) and tied for sixth in RBI (195).
Porter not only ended his career with a career-best 18-game hit streak, he ended it with a .359 batting average, tying for 10th-best all-time.
Blackburn went 3-for-4 and walked once. Pierce and Bowles added two hits apiece. Pierce played in his 228th career game, seventh-most all-time.
Brown gave the Eagles the starting pitching performance the team needed, allowing four runs (three earned) on nine hits in 6.2 innings but received the no-decision. He struck out six and did not walk a batter. Kammpi was charged for six runs (four earned) while Matthews (2-1) allowed the one unearned run.
Tyler Yagi and Blanc had three hits apiece for Utah. Brian Burrow allowed seven runs on 13 hits in 3.2 innings. Krause (3-4) earned the win in relief despite the one unearned run allowed in 1.1 innings.
- Category: Baseball
- Published on Saturday, 30 May 2009 21:43