STATESBORO, Ga. - In the midst of the final stretch run to determine the field for the Southern Conference Tournament, the Georgia Southern baseball team will host two of their three remaining SoCon series at home starting with Samford this weekend. The Eagles are one of seven teams with 9 games remaining on the conference slate and need to continue their hot home play to ensure a spot in Greenville.
Georgia Southern (25-21, 11-10) is 11-3 at J.I. Clements Stadium since a March 4th victory over North Florida. The Eagles have won all three Southern Conference series played on Jack Stallings Field this season and have series victories over the top two teams in the league standings.
Samford (30-16, 16-8) has recorded sweeps over Davidson and Western Carolina in their last two outings in the conference. Led by Louisville Slugger National Player of the Week, Saxson Butler, the Bulldogs have won five-straight games and nearly knocked off Alabama in their last loss on April 24th. Butler went 9-for-21 with two doubles, a triple, three long balls and 11 RBIs last week and went two-for-five with three RBIs in a 15-4 mid-week win over Troy on Tuesday.
Coming off a 2-5 road trip, Scooter Williams (Detroit, Mich.) got GSU back on the winning track in their first home game since April 15th with a walk-off single in the 9th inning on Wednesday. Williams has hits in 10 of his last 11 at-bats and is hitting a team-best .429 in the last 10 games. Williams is not the only Eagle riding a hot streak, Brent Pugh (Atlanta, Ga.) has hits in 10 of his last 26 at-bats and has answered the bell after entering the starting lineup in the series finale against Appalachian State.
The Bulldogs have been just as good on the road as they have at home and hold a 14-8 record away from campus. Samford is one of the more balanced teams in the conference and ranks third in both batting average and ERA. Butler, who hit two grand slams in the series a year ago, leads the team with a .357 batting average and is second with 11 home runs. Brandon Miller has the most in that category with 17 long balls and has a team-best 13 doubles.
The Eagles dropped two of three in Birmingham a year ago after Butler struck for an eighth inning grand slam on Friday night and a second inning four-run homer on Saturday. Georgia Southern avoided the sweep on Sunday after their slugger Victor Roache (Ypsilanti, Mich.) hit a grand slam of his own in the third inning.
After the offensive explosion in the regular season series it was only fitting that two teams would meet for a 1-0 pitcher's duel in the 2011 SoCon Tournament Championship game. Butler recorded one of three Samford hits in the 9th inning, but Chris Beck (Jefferson, Ga.) struck out Miller for the title. Beck was named the tournament's Most Outstanding Player after striking out 9 batters in a complete-game shutout.
All baseball games this season can be heard on the Boomer 103.7 FM and inside J.I. Clements Stadium on 88.1 FM. Audio for all games is also available on the web and subscription video is available for all home games at GeorgiaSouthernEagles.com/Eaglevision.
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