Eagles running through Sun Belt with consistency

Colin Ritsick

There’s only three more conference series left in the 2015 baseball season, and Georgia Southern is in prime position to make a run for the Sun Belt Championship.

The Eagles stand alone in second place, trailing No. 1 Georgia State by 2.5 games. GS separated itself from the rest of the pack by excelling on the weekends.

Georgia Southern won eight out of 10 weekend series this year, including four sweeps. The Eagles are coming off of a sweep of Arkansas-Little Rock this past weekend. They will face UL-Monroe, South Alabama and a non-conference series against Clemson before finishing the season with a series at Georgia State.

They have dominated on weekends with a killer consistency.

Starting pitching has been great; LHP Evan Challenger and RHP Tripp Sheppard routinely pitch late into ballgames, giving their team a chance to win and lightening the load on the bullpen.

Bullpen pitching has been good with flashes of great. LHP Jason Richman continues to eat up a ton of innings and RHP Chris Brown leads the league in saves with nine. RHP Ryan Frederick has been good out of the pen as well – pitching 22.0 innings with a 1.64 ERA.

Offensively, they have not stagnated much at all this year. Six guys have batting averages over .280 and even players that don’t have high batting averages, like 1B Ryan Cleveland who’s hitting .216 but has 25 RBI and 22 runs scored, are contributing to the offense.

The Eagles lead the Sun Belt in four statistics: two good, two bad.

1. GS leads the Sun Belt in games saved with 13, Brown has nine of 13.

2. GS hits the most home runs in the conference with 34. OF Aaron Mizell leads the team with 12 followed by OF Hunter Thomas with eight.

3. On the other hand, GS strikes out more than any other team in the conference with almost nine per game.

4. And lastly, GS leads the league in errors with nearly two per game.

The Eagles don’t lead the Sun Belt in a lot of stats, and they aren’t outside of the top five in many stats either – in another word, they’re consistent. And, they’re in a better position at this point in the season than they were last year.

Although the team won 40 games last year and a conference championship, they weren’t playing their best baseball down the stretch leading into the postseason. They are much closer to playing their best baseball now than they were with four series left in the 2014 season.

The best indicator of postseason success is that they are running through Sun Belt opponents. The only series GS has lost was to Troy and Texas State. The Troy series was affected by rain and a double-header had to be played on Saturday, which screws everything up.

And Challenger, Frederick, INF Will Hudgins and INF Kent Rollins were sidelined with injuries during the Texas State series, so that one has an asterisk with it, too.

The Eagles continue to struggle with mid-week games, posting a 2-8 record. While every game is important, those games aren’t as strong of a determinant for success as weekend series are.

So, as long as Georgia Southern keeps running through Sun Belt opponents, the team may find itself fighting for the top seed in the conference championships when they travel to Atlanta to play the season finale against Georgia State.