ATLANTA--Playing five home games in six days, the Georgia State baseball team hosts Alabama A&M Thursday at 4 p.m., followed by a three-game weekend series against Grambling with contests scheduled for 4 p.m. Friday and 1 p.m. Saturday and Sunday.
The Panthers (2-2) opened the season by taking two of three from Butler last weekend before falling at No. 20 Georgia Tech on Tuesday.
Alabama A&M is 1-4 after losing at Samford Tuesday, 12-1. Grambling is off to an 0-4 start but suffered a close loss at Mississippi State, 2-0, Tuesday.
Georgia State enters the weekend averaging better than 10 runs per game and hitting .313 as a team, leading the Colonial Athletic Association in both categories.
Freshman outfielder Josh Merrigan of Marietta, Ga., (Walton HS), the reigning CAA Rookie of the Week, is the Panthers' leading hitter at .571 with seven runs batted in, seven runs scored and two stolen bases. Another rookie, third baseman Matt Rose of Melbourne, Fla., is right behind at .500 with four RBI, while freshman catcher Joey Roach is batting .429. Sophomore shortstop Caden Bailey, the Panthers' top returning hitter, is a .412.
Newcomer Chase Raffield (Cochran, Ga.), the junior outfielder who transferred from Gordon College, leads GSU with eight RBI.
Senior Nick Squeglia (0-0), a right-hander from Lawrenceville, Ga. (Collins Hill HS), will make his second start of the season against Alabama A&M. Also expected to start games this weekend are sophomore righty Jerry Stuckey (0-0), freshman left-hander Garrett Ford (1-0) and junior right-hander Aidan McLaughlin (0-1).
Georgia State and Alabama A&M previously met in 2008, when the Panthers swept a doubleheader, 12-2 and 19-3 in a pair of games each shortened to five innings. The Panthers will be facing Grambling for the first time.
After this weekend's four-game stretch, the Panthers will conclude their homestand by hosting Georgia next Tuesday, Feb. 26, at 4 p.m. the GSU Baseball Complex.
MERRIGAN EARNS CAA HONOR: Georgia State freshman Josh Merrigan was named Colonial Athletic Association Baseball Rookie of the Week on Feb. 19 for his play during the opening weekend.
The outfielder from Marietta, Ga., and Walton High School began his GSU career by hitting .636 (7-for-11) as the Panthers took two of three games from Butler. He drove in six runs and scored six more and also walked twice and went two-for-two on stolen bases. The left-handed hitter accomplished this while facing left-handed starting pitchers for the Bulldogs each game.
He added an RBI triple at Georgia Tech and is now hitting .571 with seven RBI and seven runs scored through four games. He leads the CAA in runs scored, total bases and triples while ranking among the conference leaders in batting average, on-base percentage, hits and RBI.
OTHER FRESHMEN IMPRESSIVE, TOO: CAA Rookie of the Week Josh Merrigan is one of several GSU freshmen who have already made an impact for the Panthers.
Third baseman Matt Rose, a 24th-round pick by Toronto, is hitting .500 with four RBI, including two hits at Georgia Tech. He leads the CAA in hits.
Catcher Joey Roach started two of the first four games and homered at Georgia Tech.
Another freshman, pitcher Garrett Ford, turned in the Panthers' best start of the opening weekend. The southpaw allowed just four hits and one earned run in six innings to earn the victory in game two against Butler.
In all, 10 freshmen have seen action for Georgia State so far, including four position players who have started games, one pinch hitter, one starting pitcher, and four relievers.
ON THE OFFENSIVE: Georgia State opened the season by scoring 37 runs in three games against Butler. The Panthers batted .351 as a team.
After four games, Georgia State leads the CAA in batting average (.313) and runs (10.5 per game).
FRADY NEARS MILESTONE: Head coach Greg Frady now has 195 victories in his seventh season at the helm of the Georgia State program as he nears the 200-win plateau. He ranks second in career victories by a GSU head coach, trailing only Mike Hurst, who won 293 games in 13-plus seasons. Frady's winning percentage of .559 is the best mark in school history.
Frady has led the Panthers to four winning seasons in six years, highlighted by a school-record 39 victories, conference title and NCAA berth in 2009. Prior to his arrival, the Panther program had achieved just two winning seasons ever and had never won more than 31 games in any year.