LAFAYETTE, LA. -- Hunter Gaddis pitched 7-2/3 no-hit innings for Georgia State, but Little Rock won 2-1 on a walk-off walk in the bottom of the ninth inning in the opening round of the Sun Belt Conference Championship Tuesday at M.L. "Tigue" Moore Field at Russo Park in Lafayette, La.
The loss ends Georgia State's season at 26-29 overall, 10-19 Sun Belt, while Little Rock (28-26) moves into the Sun Belt's double-elimination bracket that begins tomorrow.
Gaddis was sensational, despite pitching on short rest. The sophomore right-hander got the final four outs, all on strikeouts, in the GSU's 5-4 victory at Georgia Southern Saturday that qualified the Panthers for the Sun Belt tourney.
Today, he was almost perfect, allowing just two walks and hitting one batter through seven innings. After striking out the first two batters in the eighth inning and getting two strikes on Little Rock leadoff hitter Marcus Ragan, he allowed a single up the middle to end his day.
His final line was 7.2 innings, no runs, one hit, two walks and a career-high 12 strikeouts, the most for a Georgia State pitcher since 2010. Gaddis threw 105 pitches, 76 of them for strikes.
But he left the game with just a 1-0 lead as the Panthers scored the game's first run on a balk in the sixth inning.
In the ninth, Acton got the first out before walking two. Sophomore lefty Tyler Koch came on to face left-handed hitter Riley Pittman, who singled home the tying run.
With the season on the line, senior Jake Rogers, the Panthers' Saturday starter, came on, but a hit batter loaded the bases before Christian Reyes drew a walk to bring home the winning run.
"I want to congratulate Hunter Gaddis on pitching one of the best games in Georgia State history on the biggest stage, under the brightest lights," head coach Greg Frady. "It was even more amazing because of the heart, grit and determination he had to have, pitching of short rest. It was just an amazing effort. I cannot say how proud I am of him, how impressed I am with him, and how he represented our program is just hats off to him.
Gaddis' performance today capped a standout season for the Panther ace.
He finished with a 9-4 record, tying the school mark for victories in a season, while his 2.95 ERA is the fifth-best mark in GSU history and the lowest since Will Campbell (2.96) in 2011.
Gaddis' 98 strikeouts are fourth-highest total in Panthers annals and the most since 1997. He is just the sixth GSU pitcher to top 100 innings but the first since 2000.
"This game kind of sums up our season," Frady said. "We played so good, so hard against so many good teams and sometimes just didn't come out with the right ending. Saturday we did get the right ending to qualify us for this tournament, and I really respect how our team played. On the other hand, losing today really hurts. It rips the heart out of your chest. Particularly for our 12 seniors who played their last game in our uniform. It's been an honor and a pleasure to coach them. But I'm proud of their accomplishments. I love them and I appreciate all of them.
"I'm proud of the team and how hard they fought. They played their hearts out today. It was a great game. Tip a hat to Little Rock. They did a great job coming back, they have a great organization and they're well coached."