Originally created 05/23/00

Eagles get job done the hard way



Georgia Southern may be short-handed compared to other college baseball teams, but the Eagles are going to the NCAA Regionals this week.

Georgia Southern (38-21) earned its first NCAA bid since 1996 despite finishing the season with only 19 players, including six pitchers. Four players were dismissed on Feb. 1 for an alleged hazing incident, and seven others quit.

The Eagles lost 11 of their first 20 games, then rebounded to tie Citadel for the Southern Conference's regular-season title at 23-7. They swept four straight games at the league tournament, defeating Furman 3-0 in the championship game Friday.

The Eagles, led by first-year coach Rodney Hennon, open regional play against top-ranked Georgia Tech (47-14) on Friday at Russ Chandler Stadium in Atlanta. The two teams played four times during the regular season with the Jackets winning by a combined score of 61-22.

Georgia Southern's Matt Easterday was the Southern Conference player of the year and nearly won the league's triple crown. He led with a .444 average and finished second in both homers (15) and RBIs (75). David Ray (12-2, 3.42) is the Eagles' top pitcher, having gone five one-hit innings on Saturday despite needing fluids during the game because of pneumonia.

Georgia Tech made its only trip to the College World Series in 1994, advancing to the championship game before losing to Oklahoma 13-5.