May 29, 2009

Courtesy of Georgia Southern Athletics

FULLERTON, Calif. - Griffin Benedict (Dunwoody/St. Pius) tied a career-high hitting two home runs but Gonzaga scored eight unanswered runs during the middle innings as Georgia Southern dropped its NCAA Fullerton Regional opener 19-10 on Friday (May 29). The 29th-ranked Eagles fell to 42-16 overall.

Georgia Southern will play at 5 p.m. Eastern against the loser of the #3 Cal State Fullerton-Utah game.

The 19th-ranked Bulldogs took advantage of early wildness from Chris Mederos (Valdosta/Gordon College), using five singles, three hit batters and an error to score seven runs - five unearned - in the first inning. A 2-run single by Drew Heid, his second hit of the inning, chased Mederos. Colin Snow (Alpharetta/Alpharetta) struck out Tyson Van Winkle to end the inning.

In the second, Kyle Blackburn (Marietta/Walton) drew a walk then A.J. Wirnsberger (Tuscaloosa, AL/Paul Bryant) narrowly missed a home run but settled for a double. Eric Phillips (Carrollton/Carrollton) brought home a run on a groundout. Matt Fields uncorked a pitch that got past catcher Van Winkle to bring home Wirnsberger and cut the deficit to 7-2.

The Zags got a run back on a one-out RBI triple by Evan Wells but Snow was able to strand him at third. In the Eagles' half the bats erupted. Matt Fields, the reigning West Coast Conference `Pitcher of the Year' had given up just three home runs all year. The Eagles surpassed that total in the third.

Benedict and Blackburn hit solo homers. Wirnsberger drew a walk then Phillips launched a 2-run shot to left field. Two batters after Brian Pierce (Roswell/Roswell) hit a double, Ty Wright (Montrose/ABAC) hit a 2-run shot to tie the game.

Reedy Berg entered the game and blanked the Eagles as the Zags offense started using the long ball. Anthony Synegal hit a solo home run in the fourth, two errors led to a run in the fifth for a 10-8 lead. Mark Castellitto and Ryan Wiegand each hit a 3-run homer in the sixth and seventh inning, respectively, to go ahead by eight runs.

Pierce lined a two-out RBI single in the seventh, matching a season-high of three hits. Benedict hit a one-out solo shot in the eighth, his second solo shot of the game. Gonzaga scored two more runs in the ninth for the final margin.

It was the first time since 2007 the Eagles allowed that many runs in a game, and first time since the 1957 NCAA Regional they allowed that many in postseason play.

For the fifth time in his career and third times this year Benedict hit two homers in a game. He finished 4-for-5 (a triple shy of the cycle) and finished with 11 total bases. He scored twice and drove in two.

Pierce finished 3-for-5 at the plate. Wright and Phillips had two hits apiece.

Mederos was charged for seven runs (two earned) on five hits in two-thirds of an inning. In his 15 starts this year the junior right-hander had gone at least five innings in every start. Snow (4-3) was charged for two runs on three hits in 3.2 innings. He walked one and struck out two.

Fields allowed eight runs (seven earned) on nine hits in 2.2 innings. Reedy Berg (4-4) was charged for two runs on six hits in 6.1 innings. He struck out six.

Van Winkle and Castellitto had three hits apiece as the Bulldogs out-hit the Eagles 18-15.