STATESBORO--Matt Herring's three-run blast on the first pitch from Parks Robinson gave Georgia Southern a 10-9 walk-off victory here Wednesday at Clements Stadium.
The wild ninth featured a two-out grand slam from Georgia's Lee Mitchell on a 3-2 pitch to give the Bulldogs (28-19) their first lead of the game but it was short-lived as the Eagles (29-20) rallied. Georgia entered the ninth, trailing 7-5 but loaded the bases with nobody out off Jason Cadenhead. He recovered to strike out Adam Swann and Matt Cavender to bring up Mitchell who was 1-for-4 with three strikeouts on the evening. He drilled the 3-2 pitch over the left field fence for his first home run since April 2.
The Eagles responded in the ninth. Chris Walker led off with a double off Max Havel. He then walked Jewel Spearman and Georgia turned to the left-hander Robinson to face the left-handed hitting Herring. It was Herring last season who smashed a three-run homer in the ninth inning against Georgia in the NCAA Athens Regional to tie the contest at 9-9. The Bulldogs eventually won that game 10-9 in 11 innings. Tonight, it was the Eagles night as the Bulldog nearly overcame five errors, two wild pitches and two passed balls. Also, they were 2-for-15 with runners in scoring position until Mitchell's grand slam.
The Eagles took advantage of some early miscues by the Bulldogs to build a 4-0 advantage through the first three frames. In the bottom of the first, Walker drew a one-out walk, stole his 42nd base of the year and then advanced to third on a groundout by Spearman. Georgia catcher Clint Sammons' pickoff attempt hit Walker in the helmet and bounced into left field, allowing him to score. In the third, catcher Brendan Gilligan drew a one-out walk. Moorhead struck out Chad Hall for the second out. Walker followed and notched the first Eagle hit of the night with a single to right as Gilligan took third. The Bulldogs then made their second error of the contest as Mitchell couldn't make the play on a grounder by Spearman, allowing Gilligan and Walker to score. Herring capped the scoring with a run-scoring double that made it 4-0 Eagles.
Georgia missed scoring opportunities in the first and third innings. Senior Kris Edge led off the game with a base hit, stole second and advanced to third on a bunt by Darryl Blaze. However, Lewis got Chaz Lytle to pop out and Adam Swann to ground out, stranding Edge. In the third, Justin Holmes singled with one out and Edge doubled down the left field line as Holmes went to third. Blaze grounded out to first and Lytle popped out to the catcher to end the threat and keep the Bulldogs off the scoreboard.
Georgia tied the game in the fifth with a four-run outburst on fourt hits and one Eagle error. Freshman Marshall Szabo led off with a double to left and scored after a couple of groundouts to the right side, the last by Homes to make it 4-1. Edge reached on an infield singled and Blaze drew a walk. Lytle tripled to center, scoring two and the relay throw from Walker sailed into the dugout, allowing Lytle to come home and tie the contest. Georgia looked for more. Swann struck out but reached first on a wild pitch. Blaze drew a walk and then Lewis' second wild pitch put both Bulldogs in scoring position. However, Lewis struck out Mitchell for the third time on the night to keep it at 4-4.
The Eagles answered in their half of the fifth, reclaiming the lead with a pair of runs on four hits off Bill Sharpton who made Georgia's fourth error of the game in that frame on another failed pickoff attempt. Hall scored the go-ahead run on a wild pitch by Sharpton. Herring's run-scoring single put Georgia Southern in front 6-4.
The Bulldogs cut it to 6-5 in the eighth.Cavender was hit by a pitch, advanced to second on a wild pitch and took third on a base hit by Mitchell. Szabo bounced one to second for the first out but Cavender scored on the play. Mitchell advanced to second on the play. Sammons struck out for the second out. A failed pickoff attempt of Mitchell by Brian Rogers moved him to third. Georgia turned to pinch-hitter Jon Armitage but he bounced out to shortstop to keep it a one-run contest.
Georgia made its fifth error in the eighth combined with a two-out passed ball by Sammons brought home Rocky Baker to give the Eagles a two-run cushion heading into the wacky final frame. Cadenhead got the win to even his record to 2-2 while Robinson falls to 0-1.
The two-game series concludes Thursday with a 4:06 pm start, a game that will be a tape-delayed telecast by FoxSports Net South and shown at 7 pm.