Mid-week wins boost Eagles’ spirit

Layne Saliba

After losing seven straight mid-week contests, Georgia Southern baseball finally got some wins under their belt. Last week, they defeated Kennesaw State with a score of 8-4. The next day, the Eagles took a 9-4 victory over Jacksonville.

“We’ve struggled a little bit in the mid-week, obviously, earlier in the season,” head coach Rodney Hennon said. “We had some different guys on the pitching staff that contributed in both of those games and I think that’s all positive to see some of those guys go out there and contribute heading into the second half of the season.”

Those two wins may not seem like much, but they were both needed wins for the team and boosted its morale after doing poorly during the weekdays this season.

Not only were the bats working for Georgia Southern when they played Kennesaw State on the road, but the pitching staff stepped up in a big way. They only let up eight hits while holding the Owls scoreless throughout the first four innings. Freshman LHP Josh Slate threw 3.1 scoreless innings to start the game and the players out of the bullpen played up to par as well.

Mid-week games are always a toss-up in terms of pitching depth, but having the guys come out of the bullpen ready to play and actually produce good results is key to winning. And, that is exactly what the Eagles were able to do in Kennesaw.

The following day, the Eagles came back to Statesboro to play Jacksonville. It was a different story for this game, as the Eagles had to come out swinging to get the win. They fell behind early but were able to come back from a one-run deficit to score six runs late in the game, led by a sophomore 1B Ryan Cleveland’s grand slam.

The guys seem to be more relaxed and confident at the plate, which encourages them to swing the bat, sometimes earlier in the count. This is something that was not happening until recently. However, since it has started, the Eagles have seen positive results.

“I think a lot of guys that were struggling earlier in the year are seeing the ball better and have a little more confidence now, so I like what’s taking place,” Hennon said.

Having that confidence brings the Eagles to an entirely new level of play that may be a large reason for their two wins last week. However, even with that confidence, no win comes easy.

Throughout the league, there is a lot of competition. There have been numerous one or two run games. There have also been plenty of extra-inning games, two of which have featured the Eagles. Therefore, this is by no means an easy conference. Everyone is fighting to be at the top with the season a little more than halfway over.

Georgia Southern sits right in the middle of the pack in the league standings. But if they are able to play mid-week games like they did last week, then they will do just fine in the Sun Belt.