STATESBORO, Ga. - Scott Henley was 2-of-4 and hit his 12th home run of the season to lead Georgia Southern to a 12-10 Southern Conference victory over East Tennessee State Sunday afternoon at J.I. Clements Stadium.
After East Tennessee State (15-26, 7-14) took a 1-0 lead on a Brandon Cross RBI-single in the top of the first inning, Georgia Southern (28-15, 16-8) plated three runs in the bottom of the frame for a 3-1 advantage. Brandon Burnsed and Brendan Gilligan opened the inning with walks and then scored as Henley hit a two-ball, one-strike pitch over the left centerfield wall.
The Bucs struck back for four runs in the top of the second to reclaim a 5-3 edge. Kirk Keithley doubled with one out and moved to third on a wild pitch by Eagle starter David Ray. After a walk to Tim Turner, a Ryan Hyder sacrifice fly scored Keithley before Ryan McKinney singled to even the game at 3-3. Andy Baxter followed with his 10th home run of the season to cap off the ETSU scoring in the inning.
A Matt Herring RBI ground-out in the third inning cut GSUās deficit to 5-4 before the Eagles scored seven runs in the fourth to take the lead for good. Jason Hinely opened the inning with a single and moved to third on a double by Chris Walker. ETSU starter Matt Hensley (2-5) then walked Burnsed to load the bases before reliever Josh Kite promptly walked Gilligan to force home Hinely. Jemel Spearman and Henley followed with singles to score Walker, Burnsed, and Gilligan. After Matt Herring walked, Darryl Stephens and Rocky Baker reached on errors that allowed Spearman, Henley and Herring to score.
A Hyder RBI-double and a run-scoring single by McKinney cut the Bucsā deficit to 11-7 in the fifth. Hyder added another RBI-double in the sixth and Scott Rose contributed a run-producing single in the eight as East Tennessee State continued to cut into the Eagle lead. However, a Gilligan suicide squeeze allowed Walker to score a lone GSU run in the eighth to push the Georgia Southern lead to 12-9 entering the final inning.
Hyder hit his second home run of the season in the final frame to finish off the scoring.
GSU reliever Scott Tolbert pitched five and two-thirds innings, striking out a career-high nine batters, while allowing four runs to improve his record to 2-2. Jared Comstock allowed just three hits and one earned run in an inning and a third to earn his third save of the season.
Georgia Southern returns to non-conference action Tuesday when it travels to Macon, Ga., to face the Mercer Bears at Claude Smith Field beginning at 6:00 p.m. ETSU will visit Radford Tuesday for a game beginning at 3:00 p.m.