Macon, Ga. – Chad Prain went 5-for-6 with three doubles and four runs scored as Georgia State defeated Mercer, 13-7, Wednesday at Claude Smith Field, giving the Panthers a split in the two-game series.
With five hits, Prain improved his season batting average to an even .500 (43-for-86) as the Panther shortstop and leadoff hitter ranks among the top five in the nation. He also drove in two runs to help Georgia State improve to 15-7. Mercer fell to 17-6.
Freshman Nathan Bates (1-0) earned the victory with 4-2/3 innings of shutout relief. Coming on with two on and one out in the fifth inning and the Panthers clinging to an 8-7 lead, the 6-7 right-hander recorded a strikeout and a pop up to end the inning. He allowed just two hits and two walks and struck out five in the longest outing of his career.
“Nathan Bates was absolutely amazing,” said GSU head coach Greg Frady. “He kept a very good offensive team at bay until we were able to put some things together offensively in the last few innings. In the mean time, he was throwing strikes.
“The reason we are winning is our bullpen, and Nathan is another one of those guys who came in and just got the job done.”
Georgia State, batting .349 as a team to rank among the national leaders, banged out 18 hits, drew six walks and even left 11 runners on base, despite scoring their 13 runs.The 13 runs marked the 11th time this season that GSU has scored 10 or more runs in a game.
Leading 8-7, Georgia State scored four runs in the seventh. Caden Bailey led off with a bloop double that dropped between three fielders in shallow left center and then came home on a one-out single by Joey Roach. Prain’s fourth hit of the day was an RBI-double to right center, and after an intentional walk to pinch hitter Mark Hogan, Triplett knocked in Prain with a single to give the Panthers an 11-7 lead.
“Chad is a hot hitter, but he is emerging as the leader of our team,” said Frady. “Not only is he playing well to help us win, but he is a great team guy.”
Georgia State got on the board first on Rose’s second homer of the season, a two-run blast to left field, and the six different players had RBIs in the Panthers’ six-run third inning, putting GSU ahead 8-0.
But Mercer answered with three runs in the bottom of the third, and then the Bears stormed back with four in the fourth, capped by Nick Backlund’s three-run homer that made it a one-run game.
Georgia State returns to conference action this weekend with its first CAA road series at UNCW, beginning Friday at 6 p.m.