Eagles Open 2008 Baseball Season Against Boston College
Friday, February 22 7 p.m.
Saturday, February 23 2:30 p.m.
Sunday, February 24 12 p.m.
All-Time Series: First Meeting
Television: February 23 live on Comcast/Charter Sports Southeast (CSS) and Comcast Sports Net New England
EAGLES PICKED THIRD IN PRESEASON POLL: A vote by the Southern Conference head baseball coaches predicted
FOUR NAMED PRESEASON ALL-SOCON: Senior Jeremiah Parker (Carrollton/Carrollton) was the lone Eagle named to the preseason First Team by the league head coaches, selected as a first baseman. Junior Chris Shehan (Strasburg, PA/Lampeter-Strasburg) was a Second Team outfielder while sophomore Kyle Blackburn (Marietta/Walton) earned a spot on the Second Team at designated hitter... In addition to his three teammates, sophomore A.J. Wirnsberger (
EAGLES ON TELEVISION AGAIN: Two
HITTING STREAKS: Several Eagles will carry a modest hitting streak into the 2008 season. A.J. Wirnsberger matched his season-high of five straight to close out the 2007 campaign... Jeremiah Parker hit safely in his last four games... Chris Shehan and David Richardson (Dahlonega/Lumpkin County) have three game streaks... Matt Miller (Canton/Woodstock) and Will Southwell (Moultrie/Colquitt County) own two game streaks.
HEAD COACH RODNEY HENNON begins his ninth year in charge of Eagle baseball. During the previous eight seasons, he guided the Eagles to no worse than a second place Southern Conference finish five times and won the regular season twice. When GS finished a sweep of New Jersey Tech (17-2), Hennon recorded his 350th career victory. While at
OPENING AT HOME:
- - PITCHERS - -
Senior Aaron Eubanks (Moultrie/Colquitt County) made a fill-in start mid-season and when it was all said and done was the team’s number one starter. He posted a staff-best .269 opponent batting average while his 4.32 ERA was lowest among the starters.
Junior Drew Murray (LaGrange/LaGrange) tied for the staff lead with four wins and finished first in Ks (65).
Sophomore Brian Wilkerson (Bonaire/Houston County) also tied for the staff lead with four wins and finished second in strikeouts with 64. Wilkerson started 17 times and led the staff with two complete games.
Junior Kyle Kamppi (Savannah/Benedictine) led the entire SoCon making 37 appearances, mainly in a set-up role. Now he will be looked upon to close out the games. Kamppi posted a 4-3 record with three saves, registering 58 strikeouts in 56 innings and a 4.82 ERA. He turned in an impressive performance last summer in the Cape Cod League.
Senior Burt Barto (Columbus/Columbus) finished 1-0 with a save in 19 appearances last year. He could see time as a midweek starter or out of the bullpen.
Sophomore Charlie Strohecker (Alpharetta/Milton) picked up three wins early in February but missed the rest of the season with an injury. He made one start in nine appearances.
Junior Blake Nation (Brooks/Starr’s Mill) logged 11 innings in nine relief appearances.
True-freshmen Trent Franzago (Byron/Peach County), Ryan McCafferty (
- - CATCHERS - -
Senior Jeremiah Parker hit .324 last year with 17 doubles and a team-leading 13 home runs. The senior also showed his versatility by starting games behind the plate, at first base and in the outfield.
Junior Griffin Benedict (Dunwoody/St. Pius) batted .280 with 10 doubles but more importantly threw out 15 runners in 54 attempts trying to steal.
According to Hennon, “We arguably have two of the best in Benedict and Parker. That’s a definitely a strong point for our team. It’s a nice luxury to have two experienced guys behind the plate. Both are very good leaders and we’re going to ask a little more from those guys this year. Because of their experience, number one we’re comfortable and confident in their abilities, we are going to allow both to call the game when they are behind the plate. That’s something we started in the fall. I think it will be a positive for our club. Our pitchers have a lot of trust and confidence in those guys. We feel really good about where we are at at catcher.”
- - INFIELD - -
Last year seven different Eagles started around the infield, and they all return. The defense posted a .965 fielding percentage, one of the best percentages in the nation and in program history. Experience in the infield should solidify the defense again. Hennon also has players versatile enough to play more than one infield position. If not catching, Parker could see time at first base as well.
Sophomore Kyle Blackburn hit two of the longest home runs seen in the SoCon last year, including one that cleared a 20-foot fence to (405 feet) centerfield at UNC Greensboro. He hit seven homers with 25 RBI while hitting .288 in 44 games last year.
Junior Will Southwell (Moultrie/Colquitt County) saw an increase in playing time at the end of the season. He hit .338 in 25 games, driving in 17 runs while recording a .423 on-base percentage. Southwell is also capable of playing third base.
Senior Jeremy Beckham (Griffin/Griffin) started all but one game last year at second base. The speedster also ranked among the Southern Conference and GS single-season leaders stealing 28 bases in 30 attempts. Offensively he scored 44 runs, defensively he posted an impressive .959 fielding percentage.
Sophomore Kevin Bowles (Statesboro/Statesboro) played in four games last year, recording two hits in four at-bats. He scored three runs and hit a double in his first-ever at-bat.
Redshirt-freshman Jake Ware (Statesboro/Statesboro) is off to a strong offensive showing this spring. He could play either second base or shortstop.
Junior Brian Pierce (Roswell/Roswell) has been in the starting line-up for 111 consecutive games. Pierce has hit only one career home run, but his .286 batting average was a personal-high and he recorded a .947 fielding percentage. Pierce scored 24 runs and drove in 25.
Sophomore A.J. Wirnsberger put up some impressive offensive numbers - .287 batting average, 14 doubles, 39 runs scored, 38 RBI and 16 hit by pitches. He tied a GS record hitting three doubles in a game and hit above .300 until the very end of the season. Even more impressive for Wirnsberger is the .993 fielding percentage as he saw time at every infield position.
Freshman D.J. Fitzgerald (
- - OUTFIELD - -
Unlike recent years,
Junior Chris Shehan played at third base most of his career, but the last month of the 2007 season moved to the outfield. Shehan, the team’s top returning hitter with a .341 batting average last year, adjusted incredibly well to left field. He ranked first on the team with 21 doubles (tied) and 59 runs scored while finishing second with 10 home runs, 12 stolen bases and 50 RBI.
Junior Matt Miller (Canton/Woodstock) shared the team doubles lead hitting 21. Despite a drop of his batting average down to .281, Miller ranked among the team leaders with 55 runs, 41 RBI, 36 walks and defensively had four outfield assists. He has been a fixture in centerfield since his freshman year.
Junior Ty Wright (Montrose/West Laurens) joined GS after two successful years at ABAC. If the fall is any indication, Wright will hit for power.
Senior David Richardson hit .304 last year and posted a .433 on-base percentage. Known for his defense,
Junior Phillip Porter (Marietta/Sprayberry) got off to an incredible hot streak, batting well over .400 before ending the year at .390 with 12 runs scored, 11 RBI and was 6-of-8 in stolen bases.
Junior Jonathan King (
Freshman Vince Smith (Kingsland/Camden County) could see playing time this season.
SATURDAY CLEMENTS TAILGATE: This Saturday marks the first of five Clements Tailgates throughout the 2008 season. Prior to the 2:30 p.m. first pitch fans are invited for free food in the parking lot area adjacent to J.I. Clements Stadium.
- Category: Baseball
- Published on Thursday, 21 February 2008 00:13