PROGRAMMING NOTE: The GSU-KSU game will air live on WRAS-FM 88.5 with special pregame programming featuring head football coach Trent Miles. Air time is 4 p.m. as Coach Miles and Dave Cohen discuss Panther football and preview the April 20 Spring Scrimmage. The baseball pregame show with head coach Greg Frady begins at 4:45 p.m., followed by first pitch at 5 p.m.
ATLANTA--After sweeping a four-game series from Fordham, the Georgia State baseball team hosts Atlanta-area rival Kennesaw State Tuesday at 5 p.m. at the GSU Baseball Complex.
Live radio coverage is available on WRAS-FM 88.5.
After Tuesday’s game, the Panthers will head on the road for nine straight games and 12 of their next 13.
In the latest NCAA statistics (Apr. 8), Georgia State LEADS THE NATION in batting average (.342), runs (278), doubles (82) and on-base percentage (.429) and ranks second in hits (408) and runs per game (8.4).
The Panthers’ potent offense faces a strong pitching staff in Kennesaw State, which sports a 2.82 earned run average.
Individually, GSU shortstop Chad Prain LEADS THE NATION with a .469 batting average and has reached base in 30 consecutive games. He also ranks second in the CAA and among the national leaders with 34 RBI.
Sophomore infielder Caden Bailey is also enjoying a very productive season with a .390 batting average and 20 RBI. He has hit safely in every game this season but three and reached base in all but one contest.
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 fifth in the CAA with five home runs. He is batting .337.
Senior Nick Squeglia (3-0, 5.24), a right-hander from Lawrenceville, Ga., will take the mound for GSU against the Owls. Squeglia has a career record of 14-6, ranking ninth in GSU history in career victories. KSU counters with right-hander Nathan Harsh (1-1, 0.61).
“It’s exciting to play in-state teams,” said GSU head coach Greg Frady. “Kennesaw State has a really good program, and they have a reputation for having a really good pitching staff. Our reputation is a little more offensive, so when you look at the matchup, it should make for a very interesting game.
“I expect a tremendous ballgame Tuesday. I want us to come out with a lot of pride and be ready to play.“
PANTHERS ON THE OFFENSIVE: Georgia State features one of the nation’s most productive offenses with a .342 batting average. In the latest NCAA statistics (Apr. 8), the Panthers LEAD THE NATION in batting average (.342), runs (278), doubles (82) and on-base percentage (.429) and rank second in hits (408) and runs per game (8.4).
Nine Panther regulars are hitting .320 or higher, including junior shortstop Chad Prain with an eye-catching .469 batting average that leads the nation. Prain leads the CAA in average and is second with 34 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.
PRAIN SPARKS OFFENSE: JJunior shortstop Chad Prain is enjoying one of the top offensive seasons in the nation. The Valdosta, Ga., native is batting .469 for the season, and he is FIRST IN THE NCAA in batting average. He leads the Panthers and ranks second in the CAA with 34 RBI, despite batting in the leadoff or number two spot. He has a .510 on-base percentage and a .600 slugging percentage, including one homer, 12 doubles and one triple. He also has 10 stolen bases.
Prain had his hitting streak snapped at 20 games, two shy of the school record, but he has reached base in 30 straight games. He has 20 multi-hit games.
THE SERIES WITH KENNESAW STATE: Kennesaw State holds a 10-6 lead in the series and has won four in a row over the Panthers.
Last season, the two teams played a weekend series. Kennesaw State won the Friday night game at GSU, 11-5 in 10 innings, and then earned one-run victories on Saturday at Sunday at Kennesaw, 5-4 and 7-6.
Georgia State’s last win over the Owls was a 6-3 victory at Kennesaw on Mar. 23, 2011.
The two schools played eight times from 1984-92. Then the series resumed in 2009, and since then, five of the eight games have been decided by one run or in extra innings.
Georgia State and Kennesaw State are scheduled to play two more times this season: April 16 at Kennesaw and May 8 at GSU. These three games are among the eight contests on the Panthers’ schedule against in-state rivals. Georgia State has already defeated Georgia, lost at Georgia Tech and split a home-and-home with Mercer.
SIMMONS RETURNS TO PANTHERSVILLE: Former Georgia State standout Derek Simmons is now an assistant coach at Kennesaw State. Simmons played two seasons for the Panthers with a .344 career batting average and was a starter for Georgia State’s 2009 CAA Championship and NCAA Tournament team.
ROSE IS PANTHERS’ FOURTH ROOKIE OF THE WEEK HONOREE: Georgia State freshman Matt Rose shined at the plate and on the mound to help the Panthers to a sweep of Fordham and was named CAA Rookie of the Week on Apr. 8.
Playing first and third base, the Melbourne, Fla., native batted .400 (4-for-10) with four RBI in three games, and also earned a save on the mound.
In Saturday’s 5-3 victory over the Rams, Rose knocked in GSU’s first two runs with a two-out single in the second inning. On Sunday in a 5-2 win, Rose drove in two of the Panthers’ five runs with a pair of two-out hits and then closed out the game on the mound. He started the game at third base, moved to first base and then took the mound for the ninth inning with the Panthers leading, 5-2. After allowing a leadoff walk, he recorded three straight strikeouts for the save.
A 24th-round draft pick by the Toronto Blue Jays out of Palm Bay High School, Rose is batting .320 on the season with 20 RBI in 26 games. On the mound, the right-hander has a 2.84 ERA with two saves in six appearances.
MERRIGAN IS TWO-TIME CAA ROOKIE OF THE WEEK: Georgia State freshman Josh Merrigan was named Colonial Athletic Association Rookie of the Week twice in the season’s first six weeks, and he leads all conference freshmen in batting average, hits, runs, RBI, total bases and stolen bases.
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 .353 with 24 RBI, and 31 runs scored. He is 9-for-9 on stolen bases.
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, and outfielder Shane Gordon has become a key role player.
At the plate, Panther rookies have accounted for 335 at-bats, a .322 batting average, 68 RBI and 76 runs scored.
On the mound, more than one-third of the Panthers’ innings pitched have been logged by freshmen, who have made 10 starts and earned six wins and two saves. The Panthers are now starting freshmen on both Friday and Saturday.
Merrigan, Ford and Rose have all been honored as CAA Rookie of the Week.