ATLANTA--Andrew Fessler allowed just two runs in 7-2/3 innings and Georgia State broke open a tie game with four runs in the seventh inning to earn a 7-4 victory over Old Dominion, completing the three-game sweep of the Colonial Athletic Association series Sunday at the GSU Baseball Complex.
Georgia State (14-6, 5-1 CAA) has won five straight games and 10 of its last 12 to move into first place in the CAA. Old Dominion fell to 9-9, 2-4 CAA.
With the game tied at 2-2 in the bottom of the seventh, the Panthers loaded the bases with no outs, and the go-ahead run came home when Josh Merrigan grounded into a double play. Caden Bailey came off the bench with a pinch-hit double to bring home another run and then delivered an insurance run in the eighth with an RBI single.
Fessler, the junior left-hander from Dallas, Ga., making his first start, scattered five hits and walked two while striking out five to improve to 2-0 on the season.
"Andrew Fessler was absolutely the player of the game today," said GSU head coach Greg Frady. "Any time your Sunday starter pitches you into the eighth inning and allows just two runs, you have to say that's a great job. We'll take that every Sunday. He has been a God-send to us, and it's great to have him.
"What we did today was put three phases of the game together," continued Frady. "Andrew Fessler pitched really well, we played defense behind him, and we hit. We didn't really score a lot of runs - I can't believe I'm saying seven is not a lot of runs - but seven is plenty when you pitch and play defense. I'm proud of the team. It's really difficult to sweep teams, and I'm very happy with our performance."
Old Dominion mounted a rally in the bottom of the ninth after a pinch-hit double by Alex Kowalczyk brought home two runs, but Connor Stanley came on to record the final out for his second save. Stanley, the sophomore righty, finished all three games in the series, earning a win and a save.
Georgia State jumped in front early with a first-inning run on Merrigan's run-scoring double. GSU added another run in the second on an RBI-single by Chad Prain, but after that, ODU starter Andy Roberts kept the potent Panthers off the scoreboard for the next four innings. Roberts pitched six innings and allowed two runs on six hits with six strikeouts but did not figure in the decision.
Old Dominion got on the scoreboard in the fifth when Shawn Sizemore singled home Brian Beard, but GSU second baseman Greg Bowder threw out Connor Myers at the plate to prevent further damage.
The Monarchs tied the game at 2-2 in the top of the seventh as Josh Eldridge led off with a double, moved to third on a groundout and scored on a wild pitch.
The Panthers answered immediately in the bottom of the inning. Joey Roach led off with a single, and Prain followed with a double off reliever Jake Josephs (2-1) to put runners at second and third with no outs. After right-hander Brad Gero relieved Josephs and walked Greg Bowder to load the bases, Merrigan hit a hard ground ball to short. ODU turned the double play, but Roach came home with the go-ahead run.
The left-handed hitting Bailey pinch hit with two outs and Prain at third and delivered a run-scoring double to right field for a 4-2 GSU lead. Chris Triplett and pinch-hitter Chase Raffield followed with RBI singles to push the Panthers advantage to 6-2.
Fessler returned for the eighth and recorded the first two outs, including a diving stop by Bailey at third base. After a two-out walk to Eldridge, Fessler gave way to junior righty Aidan McLaughlin, who struck out Ben Verlander for the third out.
Bailey extended the Panthers' cushion to 7-2 with a two-out, RBI-single in the bottom of the eighth that brought home Bowder, who reached on catcher's interference.
"Caden Bailey was an absolute star coming off the bench," said Frady. "Not only did he have the two big hits and two RBIs, but he also made the huge play at third base. It was just an example of how our players, when called upon, are responding, and when you have that, then the wins come."
Georgia State has five games this week with a mid-week home-and-home with Mercer on Tuesday at home and Wednesday in Macon, followed by its first CAA road series this weekend at preseason favorite UNCW.