ATLANTA--Georgia State's first road trip of 2013 will be a short one as the Panthers travel across to town to face 17th-ranked Georgia Tech Tuesday at 4 p.m. at Russ Chandler Stadium.
Georgia State (2-1) opened the season by taking two of three from Butler, while Georgia Tech, ranked 17th by Collegiate Baseball, is off to a 3-0 start after sweeping Akron.
The two Atlanta schools have met every year since GSU resurrected its program in 1992. Georgia Tech leads the series, 57-10, but the Panthers have defeated nationally-ranked Tech teams four times in the last six seasons, including a 5-4 victory last season.
"Every game to a coach is important, but certainly playing in-state teams is special," said GSU head coach Greg Frady. "For young guys, especially, to be in these games is exciting. The veteran guys have settled down enough to know it's another game, but an important game, and we would like to play well.
"All the teams on our schedule are really good, and as a coach I'm looking at every game knowing that they all have a great importance," Frady continued. "But from our fans' perspective, our university, our athletic department and our team, we would love to play well and find a way to have a positive result."
In the opening series, the Panthers' hit .351 as a team and averaged better than 12 runs for the three games.
"We put together a really productive offensive weekend," said Frady. "Our fans who came out to the ballpark got to see first hand what all of us have been talking about. We saw several kids perform really well, particularly freshmen, and I think that speaks volumes for our potential for the rest of the year."
Two freshmen, in particular, got off to excellent starts in the GSU lineup. Outfielder Josh Merrigan of Marietta, Ga., (Walton HS) is the Panthers' leading hitter after going 7-for-11 (.636) in the first three games with six runs batted in and two stolen bases. Third baseman Matt Rose of Melbourne, Fla., is right behind at .500 (7-for-14) with four RBI.
"Those two guys performed really well," said Frady. "They hit in the clutch, hit with two strikes, worked counts and were productive in driving in runs. The reality is that they were good, no matter what year in school they are. But it wasn't surprising because we saw that all fall and preseason."
Newcomer Chase Raffield (Cochran, Ga.), the junior outfielder who transferred from Gordon College, leads GSU with eight RBI.
Junior lefty Ben Burns (1-0), a transfer from Daytona State College, will get the start for GSU. The native of Menomonee Falls, Wis., made his Panther debut Friday against Butler and earned the victory with 2-1/3 innings of no-hit relief. The Yellow Jackets will counter with sophomore right-hander Josh Heddinger.
Live radio coverage will be available on WRAS-FM 88.5, the first of 15 games to air this season with long-time play-by-play voice Dave Cohen on the call.
RECENT SUCCESS VERSUS GEORGIA TECH: Georgia State has defeated nationally-ranked Georgia Tech teams four times in the last six seasons. Although Georgia Tech holds a 57-10 advantage in the all-time series, which began in 1971, the Panthers are 4-8 against Tech under head coach Greg Frady, who took over at GSU in 2007. Three of the four wins have come at Tech's Russ Chandler Stadium, and the Panthers are 3-4 in their last seven games at Georgia Tech. GSU's 10-1 victory in 2009 over a Tech team ranked No. 3 in the nation represents the highest-ranked team that the Panthers have ever beaten.
Last season the teams split a pair of games with each team winning on its home field. Georgia State defeated the Yellow Jackets, 5-4, on Mar. 7, 2012 at the GSU Baseball Complex. Tech returned the favor with an 8-4 victory Apr. 17 at Russ Chandler Stadium.
The game against Georgia Tech marks the first of nine games on the GSU schedule against in-state teams. The Panthers will host Georgia next week on Feb. 26. Also on tap are four games against Kennesaw State, a home-and-home with Mercer and a home date against Savannah State.
GSU'S RECENT WINS OVER GEORGIA TECH
3-21-07 (@GT) GSU 9, No. 15 GT 5
3-24-09 (@GT) GSU 10, No. 3 GT 1
3-2-11 (@GT) GSU 6, No. 23 GT 3
3-7-12 (@GSU) GSU 5, No. 10 GT 4
FRESHMEN MAKE IMPRESSIVE DEBUTS: A pair of freshmen were the top offensive performers for Georgia State in the opening weekend against Butler. Left-handed hitting outfielder Josh Merrigan went 7-for-11 with six runs batted in and two stolen bases. Third baseman Matt Rose, a 24th-round pick by Toronto, went 7-for-14 with four RBI
Another freshman, pitcher Garrett Ford, turned in the Panthers' best start of the weekend. The southpaw allowed just four hits and one earned run in six innings to earn the victory Saturday.
In all, nine freshmen saw action for Georgia State in the opening series, including four position players who started games, one pinch hitter, one starting pitcher, and three 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. Six of the nine offensive starters are batting .375 or better, led by freshman Josh Merrigan at .636.
MAKE YOUR MOVE: The 2013 campaign marks Georgia State's final season in the Colonial Athletic Association as the Panthers officially join the Sun Belt Conference in all sports on July 1, 2013.
GSU was a charter member of the Sun Belt Conference in 1976 and competed in the league in baseball from 1979-82. In 1984, the Panther baseball program began competing in the Trans America Athletic Conference (TAAC), which was later renamed the Atlantic Sun Conference. The Panthers then moved to the Colonial Athletic Association for the 2006 season.
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.