Challenger leads Eagles to game one win

Layne Saliba

The Georgia Southern baseball team beat the University of Texas at Arlington on Friday night with a score of 6-1 at J.I. Clements Stadium after being on the road for a seven-game stretch.

Junior LHP Evan Challenger remained undefeated after pitching 7.2 innings and giving up five hits and one earned run en route to the win. Challenger (4-0) also struck out eight of the 29 batsmen he faced.

“It feels good to be 4-0. I’ve never been in this position before. But it’s good, especially having the offense behind me that I do and having confidence in the bullpen. It makes going out there a lot easier,” Challenger said.

Redshirt junior LF Hunter Thomas went one for four on the night, but the one that found the bat was a two-run shot over the right-field fence.

There was not much action in the first inning, but Georgia Southern (20-15, 10-6 SBC) brought one run around in the bottom of the second inning to get on the scoreboard first.

One single apiece from sophomore 1B Ryan Cleveland, senior SS Dalton Busby and junior 3B Cody Lanford sent Cleveland across home plate to give the Eagles a 1-0 lead.

Heading into the fourth inning, the Mavericks (14-17, 5-8 SBC) were still unable to plate any runs. However, over the next three innings the Eagles scored four runs led by a two-run home run from Thomas in the bottom of the sixth inning.

Senior DH Kody Adams singled to right field in the next inning, which gave him the opportunity to advance to second after a sacrifice grounder from senior RF Aaron Mizell. Adams eventually scored giving the Eagles a 5-0 lead.

It looked like Georgia Southern was going to shut out UT Arlington, but the Mavericks managed to take advantage of Challenger’s struggles late in the game by scoring one run, cutting the Georgia Southern lead to 5-1.

The Eagles answered, though, in the next inning after Mizell drove in junior 2B Kent Rollins, which helped them gain the five-run lead once again and eventually the 6-1 win.

“It’s good to be back home after the two long trips and then the mid-week game in Charleston. It’s been almost three weeks since we’ve been at home. So I think that any time you’re gone for that long, you’re always excited to be back home and I think our guys were tonight,” head coach Rodney Hennon said. “But we’ve just got to come out and continue to focus and continue to play hard tomorrow.”

The series will continue with game two on Saturday with senior RHP Tripp Sheppard getting the nod on the mound. First pitch is set for 2 p.m.