ATLANTA- Senior Joey Wood's single drove in fellow senior Brandon Williams from second base with two outs in the bottom of the ninth inning as the Georgia State baseball team topped defending Colonial Athletic Association champion James Madison Friday, 9-8, in the teams' series opener at the GSU Baseball Complex.
The Panthers scored both early and late against the Dukes, scoring six times in the first inning before thwarting a JMU charge over the final innings for GSU's fifth straight one-run victory.
The win moves the Panthers to 10-13 on the season and 3-1 in CAA play while JMU falls to 5-16-1 overall and 0-7 in league action with the loss.
Friday marks the Panthers' third win in the last four meetings with the Dukes, a club GSU has traditionally struggled with. It is the Panthers' first home win against the Dukes since 2007 and just the fifth in 21 all-time meetings.
"We've been fighting so hard through so many close games," GSU head coach Greg Frady said. "This was a tremendous win tonight against a tough club that really battled the whole game. I couldn't be prouder of Joey Wood and I'm so happy for our team."
The Dukes scored once in the top of the first inning against Panthers starter Justin Malone, but GSU struck back in a big way in the bottom of the frame. After Kody Adams singled and scored to tie the game, Jonathan Kolowich launched a grand slam over the wall in left to make it 5-1. Wood then walked and Greg Bowder doubled him home as GSU scored six times in the first inning for the second straight game.
The Dukes would chip away at the Panther lead over the next few innings and after Casey Goss' RBI double in the fifth, GSU's advantage was 7-5.
Adams drove in Wood with an RBI single in the bottom of the inning to make it 8-5, but the Dukes scored two runs in the seventh and one in the eighth.
Malone yielded to Jake Dyer (2-1), who yielded the tying run in the eighth on a sacrifice fly, but pitching and defense kept the game even in the ninth. After Goss' fourth hit of the day went for a double to lead off the inning, second baseman Greg Bowder snared a liner off the bat of Chad Carroll to prevent a run-scoring hit.
"That was the play of the game in my opinion," Frady said of Bowder's catch. "If he doesn't make that play, they take the lead and the momentum shifts completely."
After Goss stole third base, Dyer stranded him and kept the game tied by striking out Dukes Ryan Kilmon and Ian Haynes.
In the bottom of the ninth, the leadoff batter Williams was hit by a pitch and advanced to second on a wild pitch. After two strikeouts, Wood delivered the game-winning hit to give GSU its third walk-off win of the season.
Wood was one of three Panthers with two hits on the evening while Drew Shields led the team with three.
The two squads return to action Saturday for game two of the series at the GSU Baseball Complex at 1 p.m.