ATLANTA -- Freshman Ryan Glass homered in his first at-bat and drove in all three runs to back a strong start from Hunter Gaddis as Georgia State opened the 2018 season with a 3-1 victory over Bradley in the Atlanta Challenge at the GSU Baseball Complex.
The Panthers, who won on Opening Day for the sixth straight year, host UConn Saturday at 2 p.m. in Game 2 of the Atlanta Challenge.
Glass, the 6-4, 220-pound freshman designated hitter from Atlanta's Woodward Academy, came to the plate in the first inning with two outs and Nick Gatewood at first base. On the 1-0 count, he crushed a fastball from Bradley starter Cole Cook well over the left field fence to give GSU the early lead.
"The adrenaline was flowing as I stepped into the box. As soon as I hit it, I was thinking, OK I got it," Glass said.
The score remained that way as Gaddis, the sophomore right-hander, tossed six scoreless innings, scattering seven hits with four strikeouts and two walks.
In the bottom of the sixth, Gatewood singled with two outs and moved to second on a wild pitch. Then Glass laced Cook's two-strike pitch into right field for an opposite-field single to bring home the key insurance run.
"When I see other people doing the job, it pushes me forward to do mine," Glass said. "I saw Nick out there at second base and I knew I couldn't leave him out there, so I had to fight and fight. Once he gave me a pitch I could handle, I had to poke it out into right field and get him in.
"The atmosphere here is so much different from high school and travel ball," Glass continued. "Everyone is grown men out here. Not to say I'm a small person, but I just feel like I'm surrounded by a lot of ballplayers. I'm happy for the guidance from our coaches and our veteran players. This was only Game 1, and I'm just a freshman so there's a lot of things I haven't seen. I'm going to look to all these guys for guidance and make sure I'm doing everything I'm supposed to do to help the team as much as I can."
Senior right-hander Tanner Thomson blanked the Braves in the seventh and eighth innings and started the ninth but allowed a leadoff single by Andy Shadid and a run-scoring double by Dan Bolt that pulled Bradley within 3-1. After a walk, closer Jansen Acton came on for the Panthers.
Acton recorded the first out as pinch hitter Nick McMurray fouled a bunt attempt for strike three, but then he hit Luke Shadid to load the bases. That's when Acton induced a game-ending, double-play ground ball, second baseman Mike Huggins to shortstop Justin Jones to first baseman Jack Thompson for the victory.
"It was really great to see our grit and our senior leadership tonight," head coach Greg Frady said. "Mike Huggins to Justin Jones to Jack Thompson to end the game, three seniors right there, plus Jansen Acton on the mound. I'm just proud of the team, proud of how we played and happy to be 1-0."
For Jones, the Panthers' senior shortstop, that was his third inning-ending double play of the night. After Bradley loaded the bases in the fourth inning against Gaddis, Jones turned the 4-6-3 twin killing. Then in the 6th, Bradley put runners at second and third with one out, but Jones caught a soft liner and threw to third base to double the runner and end the threat.