Winners of 13 of their last 17 games, Georgia State returns home to host a Colonial Athletic Association series against Towson this weekend at the GSU Baseball Complex.
PLEASE NOTE: Due to the forecast of inclement weather, GSU and Towson will now play a doubleheader Friday at 12 noon. Game three of the series is TBA.
Despite playing 11 of their last 12 games on the road, Georgia State stands at 29-17 overall, 8-10 in the CAA. Towson is 22-22, 11-7 in the CAA.
With a 29-17 record and 10 games remaining, Georgia State is assured of a winning season for the fifth time in the last six seasons under head coach Greg Frady. To put that in perspective, before Frady took over as head coach in 2007, the GSU program had posted only two winning seasons in its history - 1980 (30-25) and 2000 (31-28).
Georgia State continues to rank among the nation’s top five in batting average (.320, 5th), hits (534, 2nd), runs (361, 3rd), doubles (113, 2nd) and runs per game (7.8, 5th). The Panthers are 10th nationally in on-base percentage (.409) and 16th in slugging (.455).
Individually, GSU shortstop Chad Prain was named last week to the first Brooks Wallace Shortstop of the Year Award Watch List as he enjoys one of the top offensive seasons in the nation, ranking in the top 10 in the NCAA in hits (75) and batting average (.414). He also has 42 RBI and 13 stolen bases, and the GSU shortstop helps the Panthers rank 15th in the nation in double plays.
Freshman center fielder Josh Merrigan, a three-time CAA Rookie of the Week and a strong candidate for Freshman All-America honors, leads all conference freshmen in batting average (.347), hits (67), runs scored (43), RBI (28), total bases (91) and stolen bases (11). Among all freshmen in the nation, Merrigan is third in hits and runs scored and ninth in batting average.
Junior outfielder-designated hitter Chase Raffield is the Panthers’ hottest hitter, going 12-for-24 with 12 RBI and nine runs scored in the last seven games to raise his batting average to .361. He ranks third in the CAA in both homers (9) and RBI (46).
Sophomore infielder Caden Bailey is also enjoying a very productive season with a .371 batting average and 27 RBI.
Georgia State’s weekend rotation includes a pair of freshmen on Friday and Saturday in right-hander Nathan Bates (2-1, 2.83) and lefty Garrett Ford (4-3, 4.95), the current CAA Rookie of the Week after throwing eight shutout innings against Northeastern. Junior left-hander Andrew Fessler (4-1, 2.33) is the Sunday starter, coming off a complete-game, five-hitter with eight strikeouts Sunday against Northeastern.
SEVEN ROOKIE WINNERS IN 11 WEEKS: Illustrating the talent and impact of Georgia State’s freshman class, the Panthers have had the Colonial Athletic Association Rookie of the Week winner seven times in 11 weeks this season, including the last four in a row.
Center fielder Josh Merrigan leads the way with three awards, while starting pitcher Garrett Ford has two, including this week. Matt Rose, an infielder and closer, and starting pitcher Nathan Bates have also been honored.
Merrigan, Rose and catcher Joey Roach regularly start in the field, and on the mound, Bates and Ford start on Friday and Saturday, respectively, and Rose has become the closer.
The trio of Merrigan, Rose and Roach have combined for more than 400 at-bats, a .307 batting average, six homers, 66 RBI and 83 runs scored.
On the mound, Ford, Bates and Rose have logged more than 120 innings, posting a 3.67 ERA, six wins and five saves.
PRAIN NAMED TO BROOKS WALLACE AWARD WATCH LIST: Junior shortstop Chad Prain, enjoying one of the top offensive seasons in the nation, was named last week to the Brooks Wallace Shortstop of the Year Award watch list. The Valdosta, Ga., native is batting .414, ranking among the top 10 in the NCAA in batting average and hits (75). He also ranks among the national leaders with 42 RBI, despite generally batting in the leadoff or number two spot. He has three homers, 15 doubles and one triple, along with 13 stolen bases.
Prain had a hitting streak of 20 games, two shy of the school record, and he also had a streak of reaching base in 37 straight games. He has 24 multi-hit games.
Prain hit a solo home run, his third of the season, to help the Panthers' to a 2-1, series-clinching victory at Northeastern on Sunday.
MERRIGAN RANKS AMONG NATION’S TOP FRESHMEN: Georgia State center fielder Josh Merrigan is a strong candidate for the CAA Rookie of the Year Award as well as Freshman All-America honors.
For the season, Merrigan is batting .347 with three homers, 28 RBI and 43 runs scored. He is 11-for-11 on stolen bases. In Sunday’s win at Northeastern, he hit the game-winning home run in the Panthers’ 2-1 victory.
He leads all conference freshmen in batting average, hits, runs, RBI, total bases and stolen bases while ranking third overall in hits and fifth overall in runs scored.
Merrigan ranks third among all freshmen in the nation in hits and runs scored and ninth in batting average.
PANTHERS PITCH THEIR WAY TO CAA SERIES WIN AT NORTHEASTERN: After falling 6-5 in 13-innings on Friday, Georgia State came back to win its CAA road series at Northeastern with a 6-0 shutout on Saturday, followed by a 2-1 victory Sunday. The Panthers allowed just two earned runs in the series, which covered 30-1/3 innings, for an ERA of 0.59. Both earned runs scored in Friday’s loss, and then the GSU staff allowed just one unearned run over the next 18 innings on Saturday and Sunday.
Freshman Garrett Ford tossed eight shutout innings and teamed with Jerry Stuckey for a combined shutout on Saturday, and junior Andrew Fessler tossed a complete-game, five-hitter with a career-high eight strikeouts in Sunday’s 2-1 victory.
As Georgia State has won 13 of its last 17 games, the pitching staff has posted a 3.45 ERA in that stretch.
FORD IS GSU’S LATEST CAA ROOKIE OF THE WEEK HONOREE: Georgia State’s freshman pitcher Garrett Ford is this week’s Colonial Athletic Association Rookie of the Week, his second award of the season.
The rookie left-hander from Loganville, Ga., threw eight scoreless innings in a combined shutout of Northeastern. Ford allowed just four hits and walked none while striking out four in eight innings. He needed just 95 pitches to record 24 outs.
Ford earned his first Rookie Award on Mar. 18 after he took a shutout into the ninth inning to lead the Panthers to a 12-3 victory over George Mason. Over the first eight innings, he allowed no runs on seven hits with two walks and one strikeout. With GSU leading 12-0 and the bullpen depleted after Friday’s 14-13 game, he started the ninth inning and allowed three runs before giving way to the bullpen. His final line included 8.1 innings, three runs, nine hits, three walks and one strikeout.
Ford has been the Panthers’ Saturday starter all season, posting a 4-3 record with a 4.95 ERA in a team-leading 63.2 innings.
THISCLOSE: Over the last 12 games Georgia State has played eight one-run games and five extra-inning games.
One seven-game stretch from April 12-20 featured six one-run games and four extra-inning contests as the Panthers played 72 innings in nine days.
In two of the three extra-inning wins, the Panthers were down to their last out. At New Orleans (Apr. 13), GSU trailed 5-4 in the top of the ninth and had the bases loaded with two outs when Chad Prain fell behind 0-2 but fouled off several pitches before he was hit by a pitch to bring home the tying run. At Kennesaw State (Apr. 16), Prain scored the tying run on an error with two outs in the top of the ninth.
PANTHERS WIN 13 OF LAST 17: Georgia State has won 13 of its last 17 games. Included in this stretch is an eight-game winning streak from April 5-13 that equalled the second-longest winning streak in school history. The GSU record is 11 in a row by the 2011 squad. The Panthers also won eight in a row in 2000, 2008 and 2009.
MERRIGAN SETS GSU FRESHMAN RECORD: Enjoying an outstanding rookie season, freshman center fielder Josh Merrigan is beginning to make his mark in the Georgia State record book. Now with 67 hits on the season, he has easily surpassed the previous high for a GSU freshman, 57 hits by current volunteer assistant Bradley Logan in 2007 and former outfielder Jay Langston in 1997.
Merrigan has scored 43 runs on the season, just one shy of that GSU freshman mark (44 by Jay Langston in 1997).
For the season, Merrigan is batting .347 with three homers, 28 RBI and 43 runs scored. He is 11-for-11 on stolen bases.