ATLANTA - There are single games that can turn around seasons. Georgia Southern's baseball team might have played one Saturday against Georgia Tech.
The Eagles rallied from a six-run deficit in the final two innings to defeat their in-state nemesis 8-7 in the first game of a two-game series at Russ Chandler Stadium. The two teams meet again at 1 p.m. today.
"Any time you get a win over a good team and can do it coming from behind, that helps your team's confidence," said Georgia Southern head coach Rodney Hennon, whose team beat Georgia Tech for just the second time in their past 24 meetings. "But we have to come back out here and get another one. We can't be satisfied with one win."
The victory is Georgia Southern's fifth in six games and evens its record at 14-14. The comeback was reminiscent of the late-inning rallies that became a trademark during the 2000-2003 seasons, when the Eagles advanced to three consecutive NCAA Tournaments.
The game won't have the same profound effect on the losers.
Georgia Tech (14-11) came into Saturday a winner of five of six games after a slow start. And the fault for Saturday's loss lay with the Yellow Jackets' bullpen.
Georgia Tech dominated for seven innings. The offense produced 16 hits and starting pitcher Brian Burks allowed one run on two hits.
"Brian was outstanding, and it's a shame he didn't get the win," Georgia Tech coach Danny Hall said. "Our bullpen just totally failed us."
Jason Neighborall relieved Burks to start the eighth inning with Georgia Tech leading 7-1.
The Eagles' offense teed off against the Yellow Jackets' bullpen, scoring three runs off three different relievers in the eighth inning to cut their deficit in half.
Georgia Southern added four more runs off three Georgia Tech relievers in the ninth to take an 8-7 lead. Georgia Tech's bullpen allowed six hits and issued five walks in the final two innings.
Burks threw 81 pitches in the game, his second lowest pitch count in seven starts this season. He said after the game he could have pitched the eighth but did not question his coach's decision. Hall, though, did regret the call.
"Hindsight is 20-20, but I should have sent him back out," Hall said. "You feel like you have enough guys to keep them from scoring. We didn't."
Georgia Southern's Grant Burruss capped his team's comeback with a two-run single in the ninth. The senior designated hitter finished with three RBI.
The Eagles' Everett Teaford (5-3) picked up the win in relief. He pitched 6w innings, coming in for starter Dustin Evans in the second inning when Evans developed a blister on his pitching hand.
Brian Harrison worked the ninth inning for his first save of the season.
Georgia Tech's Ryan Turner, who faced three batters in the ninth inning and failed to record an out, took the loss to fall to 1-2.
Brandon Boggs led Georgia Tech at the plate. He went 3-for-4 with four RBI.