The Georgia Southern baseball team clinched the Sun Belt East Division title at the end of the regular season, but fell to Coastal Carolina in the final game of the Sun Belt Championship on Sunday.
“You have to work so hard just to get here,” GS Head Coach Rodney Hennon said. “And to get that close and not get over the hump is certainly a tough pill to swallow.”
GS started off strong in their campaign to defeat the defending conference champions, but ran into some offensive trouble in the final five innings.
Junior outfielder Mason McWhorter went down injured after being hit by a pitch in the first inning when he was at bat, and this was a major blow to the lineup. Luckily, Nolan Tressler came in for him and sparked the offense with an early home run.
Hennon wanted to get this title for the late GS coach Jack Stallings, who passed away last summer. He poured 24 years in the program in addition to helping with the United States national and Olympic baseball teams.
Losing 7-9 on such a grand stage is never easy, but the team has racked up many accomplishments this season. In addition to three Eagles named to All-Sun Belt Teams, junior pitcher Seth Shuman, junior outfielder Mason McWhorter, and junior infielder Steven Curry, the team finished with a 35-24 overall record.
Jason Swan, Tyler Owens, and Nick Jones were named to the All-Sun Belt Tournament Team for their performance over the course of the week.
Going into the tournament, GS was the no.2 seed, thanks to a series sweep over in state rival Georgia State in the last weekend of regular season play.
Hennon capped off his 20th season as the head of this program, and has led GS to the Sun Belt Tournament every year since the program’s shift from the SoCon Conference.
GS can attribute much of their success to the variety of pitchers they could put on the mound in sticky situations. With the end of this academic year, the team is losing four senior pitchers in Cole Whitney, Daniel Collins, Tristan Roberts, and Lawson Humphries.
Senior outfielder Tyler Martin finished with a career high 41 runs this season, and played a significant role in Saturday’s semifinal victory against Troy. Hennon became emotional when speaking about this group of players.
“It’s been one of the most unselfish group of kids I’ve ever, ever had the privilege of coaching,” Hennon tearfully said. “I hurt for them right now.”
While the fans may be upset about the loss, Hennon wants everyone to know that he will always be satisfied with the team’s performance.
“They have absolutely nothing to hang their head about,” Hennon said. “They have done everything I have asked.”
Amanda Arnold, The George-Anne Sports Editor, email@example.com