Athens, Ga.- Freshman Caden Bailey singled twice and scored as the Georgia State baseball team went toe-to-toe with #9 Georgia but dropped a 4-1 decision Wednesday night in front of 1,658 fans at Foley Field in Athens.
The Panthers (3-2) and Bulldogs (4-0) remained tied until the seventh inning, when UGA pushed ahead with the game's final three runs.
"We really played well tonight on the road against a very good team," said Panthers head coach Greg Frady. "It just came down to one opportunity and they cashed in, but this game was very closely played."
GSU played outstanding infield defense all night, many times taking away hits from the UGA offense. Freshman starter Max Schmitz kept the Bulldogs at bay with 3.2 strong innings, allowing just one run on a bases-loaded walk in the fourth.
The Panthers struggled at the plate throughout the night but broke through off reliever Bryan Benzor in the sixth inning to tie the game. Bailey led off with an infield single and advanced to second on the play after a throwing error. After he was moved to third on a sacrifice bunt, fellow freshman Kody Adams singled him home to knot the game, 1-1.
Left-hander Hunter Cash provided quality relief replacing Schmitz, keeping the Bulldogs off the board until the seventh.
UGA leadoff man Brandon Stephens began the seventh by reaching second on an outfield error, and was advanced on a bunt. He scored on a groundout two batters later to make it 2-1, and Bulldog slugger Levi Hyams later added to the cushion with a two-out, two-run home run just over the outstretched arm of Panther right fielder Jonathan Kolowich.
Panther sophomore Aidan McLaughlin kept UGA from scoring further by pitching a perfect eighth, but the homer proved to be the game's final runs as GSU was unable to close the gap over the final two innings.
The Panther defense set the tone for a tight contest in the first inning. Bulldog leadoff hitter Conor Welton launched a rocket back up the middle, but Bailey snared it on the run from his shortstop position and gunned to first to beat Welton.
With UGA later ahead 1-0 and the bases loaded in the fourth inning, again the Panther defense shined to keep the game close. Curt Powell put down a rolling bunt down the third base line that Drew Shields charged on, scooped up and fired to first to beat the runner, end the inning and save an important run.
"Our defensive infield play is really exciting and is very solid right now," commented Frady.
Bailey also had GSU's other hit with a single through the right side in the third inning.
Cash (0-1) took the loss despite allowing just two hits over 3.2 innings as the three unearned runs made the difference. Benzor (1-0) earned the win while Blake Dieterich picked up his first save.
"We played well, that's the thing that we need to know," Frady added. "If we keep playing like we're playing now, the probability is that we're going to start winning these games because the effort was certainly there."
The Panthers return home for a three-game series starting this Friday against Austin Peay (3-1), a power from the Ohio Valley Conference that reached the NCAA regionals last season.
Friday's game one is set for 4 p.m.