ATLANTA--Facing its eighth road test in the last nine games, Georgia State travels to Alabama State for a mid-week game Wednesday at 5:30 p.m. ET at Wheeler-Watkins Baseball Complex in Montgomery, Ala.
The two teams are meeting for the second time in a week, following last Wednesday’s 14-1 victory by Georgia State in Atlanta.
The Panthers (16-13, 5-7 CAA) look to rebound after three tough losses at Colonial Athletic Association foe Delaware over the weekend. GSU suffered the three defeats by a total of eight runs. The Panthers trailed game one just 2-0 after eight before falling, 7-2; then led game two 6-5 after seven falling in extra innings and were tied 2-2 in the sixth inning of game three before losing 4-2.
“Three really close games,” said GSU head coach Greg Frady. “When you have a young team, playing on the road is tough, and it’s just a little bit harder to get those last three outs. We’re learning a lot about that, and it’s only going to strengthen our team as we go forward.”
Alabama State is 18-12 on the season, pending Tuesday’s game at Troy.
In the latest NCAA statistics (Apr. 1), Georgia State is second in the nation in batting average. The Panthers are hitting .339 while averaging 8.5 runs per game (third in NCAA). GSU also leads the nation with 75 doubles while ranking second in hits (360), second in runs (247) and fifth in on-base percentage (.425).
Individually, shortstop Chad Prain LEADS THE NATION with a .487 batting average while ranking 23rd nationally (second in CAA) with 32 runs batted in. He is riding an 18-game hitting streak.
“Chad is having a great season,” said Frady. “He has brought a great attitude and a strong work ethic. He likes to encourage other teammates, and he plays with great energy.
“Chad just goes out there with the goal of trying to get better every game and help the team win, and the numbers certainly speak for themselves.”
Sophomore infielder Caden Bailey is enjoying a very productive season with a .387 batting average and 19 RBI.
Freshman center fielder Josh Merrigan, a two-time Colonial Athletic Association Rookie of the Week, leads all CAA freshmen in batting average, hits, runs scored, RBI, total bases and stolen bases.
Junior outfielder-designated hitter Chase Raffield ranks third in the CAA with five home runs and fifth in RBI with 27. He is batting .341.
Senior right-hander Nick Squeglia will take the mound for Georgia State at Alabama State. The Lawrenceville, Ga., native pitched against the Hornets last week, when he allowed just one run on three hits in a career-high eight innings to improve his record to 3-0 on the season. Squeglia has a career record of 14-6 to rank ninth in GSU history in all-time victories.
PANTHERS ON THE OFFENSIVE: Georgia State features one of the nation’s most productive offenses with a .339 batting average and 8.5 runs per game. In the latest NCAA statistics (Apr. 1), the Panthers are second in the nation in batting average, second in hits (360), second in runs (247) and third in runs per game. GSU leads the NCAA with 75 doubles, and the Panthers’ on-base percentage of .425 stands fifth.
Nine Panther regulars are hitting .310 or higher, including junior shortstop Chad Prain with an eye-catching .487 batting average that leads the nation. Prain leads the CAA in average and is second with 32 RBI.
This year’s GSU offense could rival the Panthers’ 2010 edition that led the nation in runs scored with 10.5 per game and ranked third with a .355 batting average.
NATION'S LEADING HITTER: Junior shortstop Chad Prain is enjoying one of the top offensive seasons in the nation. The Valdosta, Ga., native is batting .487 for the season, and he entered the week ranked FIRST IN THE NCAA in batting average and hits (58). He leads the Panthers and ranks second in the CAA with 32 RBI, despite batting in the leadoff or number two spot. He has a .519 on-base percentage and a .622 slugging percentage, including one homer, 10 doubles and one triple. He also has eight stolen bases.
Prain currently has an 18-game hitting streak. He has reached base in every game this season in which he has come to the plate (27 consecutive games). He has 19 multi-hit games.
• LEADS THE NATION with a .487 batting average
• .519 on-base pct. (16th in NCAA)
• .622 slugging percentage
• Riding an 18-game hitting streak
• Has reached base in every game this season in which he has batted (27 straight)
• 19 multi-hit games
• Has 32 RBI (23rd in NCAA) while batting leadoff or second
MERRIGAN IS TWO-TIME CAA ROOKIE OF THE WEEK: Georgia State freshman Josh Merrigan has been named Colonial Athletic Association Rookie of the Week twice in the season’s first six weeks, the only freshman to win the award more than once.
The center fielder from Marietta, Ga., and Walton High School batted .364 with one home run and three RBI in a three-game sweep of Old Dominion to garner accolades on Mar. 18.
Merrigan earned his first CAA Rookie honor of Feb. 18 after began his GSU career by hitting .636 (7-for-11) in the opening series against 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.
For the season, Merrigan is batting .364 with 23 RBI, and he is third in the CAA with 29 runs scored. He is 8-for-8 on stolen bases.
MERRIGAN AMONG CAA LEADERS
CATEGORY Overall Freshmen
Avg: .364 15th 1st
Hits: 44 3rd 1st
Runs: 29 3rd 1st
RBI: 23 T-12th 1st
Total Bases: 58 8th 1st
SB: 8 8th 1st
THE SERIES WITH ALABAMA STATE: Georgia State defeated Alabama State, 14-1, in Atlanta on Mar. 27 to improve to 19-1 all-time against the Hornets.
Georgia State won the first 17 meetings before Alabama State broke through with a 14-9 victory last season in Montgomery.
In last week’s game, GSU senior right-hander Nick Squeglia allowed just one run on three hits over eight innings. He struck out five and retired the final 19 batters he faced. Shortstop Chad Prain went 4-for-4 with a triple and three doubles and drove in three runs for the Panthers.
FRESHMEN ALL OVER THE LINEUP CARD: Freshmen are playing key roles for Georgia State, both at the plate and on the mound.
Three freshmen regularly start in the field for the Panthers in center fielder Josh Merrigan, first baseman-third baseman Matt Rose and catcher Joey Roach. Garrett Ford has been in the weekend rotation all season, and now Nathan Bates has joined him. In addition, Rose and Brantley Burton are pitching key innings out of the bullpen.
At the plate, Panther rookies have accounted for 297 at-bats, a .320 batting average, 59 RBI and 71 runs scored.
On the mound, one-third of the Panthers’ innings pitched have been logged by freshmen, who have made nine starts and earned four wins and one save. The Panthers are now starting freshmen on both Friday and Saturday.
Merrigan and Ford have both been honored as CAA Rookie of the Week.