PLEASE NOTE: Saturday's game between Georgia State and Grambling State has been moved to a 3 p.m. start due to the inclement weather.
ATLANTA--Joey Roach's seventh-inning single brought home the go-ahead run to lift the Georgia State baseball team to an 8-7 victory over Grambling State Friday in the opener of a three-game series at the Georgia State Baseball Complex.
After falling behind, 5-1, in the cold, wet conditions, Georgia State (4-2) used a three-run fifth inning to move ahead 7-5 before allowing Grambling (0-5) to tie the game at 7-7 with two runs in the seventh.
In the bottom of the inning, Nic Wilson belted a one-out double to the opposite field. Pinch runner Garrit Church moved over to third on a ground ball by Mark Hogan, and Roach delivered his single to center field to score Church, giving the Panthers an 8-7 lead.
"Joey is a young player, but he is clutch player," said Georgia State head coach Greg Frady. "We've seen this a lot in practice, and our team has confidence that he will come through. That was a huge RBI to give us the lead."
Freshman Brantley Burton pitched a scoreless eighth inning, and then Connor Stanley pitched the ninth to earn his first save. Grambling put the tying run on base on Darren Farmer's one-out single, but catcher Scott Sarratt gunned him down when he attempted to steal second base. The Tigers again put the tying run on base on an error, but Stanley struck out Elias Todman to end the game.
"This was a great team victory on a tough day to play. Grambling is a good team, and we knew they would be hungry to get in the win column," Frady said of the Tigers, who fell 2-0 at Mississippi State earlier this week. "But our team took a real growth step forward today in a game in which every pitch mattered. It was a really hard fought game to the end and a great win for our team."
The Panthers entered the bottom of the third inning down, 5-1. With one out, freshmen Josh Merrigan and Matt Rose had back-to-back singles to put runners at first and second. Chase Raffield's double over the centerfielder's head scored Merrigan, and then Mark Hogan singled through the right side with two outs to score two runs and pull Georgia State within one.
Two innings later, Hogan tied the game with a run-scoring single that brought home Raffield, who started the rally with a two-out single, which was followed by a Wilson double down the left field line. Roach reached on an error by the first baseman that scored Wilson, and then Chad Prain legged out a bunt single to score Hogan and put the Panthers ahead, 7-5.
Neither starting pitcher figured in the decision. Georgia State's Jerry Stuckey allowed five runs but only three earned in six innings, tying his career high with six strikeouts and walking none. Freshman Matt McCloskey (1-0) came on in the seventh and earned the victory in relief. Grambling reliever Frank Rivers, Jr. (0-1) took the loss.
McCloskey allowed two runs, just one of them earned, as Grambling tied the game, but he started a 1-6-3 double play to get out of the jam and keep the score tied.
"I thought our young guys in the bullpen maintained their composure and did a good job," said Frady. "We made an error behind Matt McCloskey and put him in a tough spot. I went to the mound and told him, 'You're only one pitch away from getting out of this.' He got the ground ball back to him, and he fought hard to get up and make the throw, and Chad Prain turned it. That was a big, big play."
Hogan drove in three runs for the Panthers for the second straight game, and Prain contributed three hits and two RBI.
Georgia State and Grambling State will continue their series Saturday at 3 p.m. Please note, the start time has changed from originally published schedules due to the inclement weather.