NEW ORLEANS—A solo home run by NCAA batting leader Chad Prain in the 12th inning gave Georgia State its first lead and pitchers Nathan Bates, Ben Burns and Matt Rose combined for 13 strikeouts as the Panthers defeated New Orleans, 4-3 in 12 innings, Friday at Wesley Barrow Stadium in New Orleans, La.
Georgia State won its sixth straight game to improve to 22-13 on the season. New Orleans dropped to 5-29.
With the game tied at 3-3, Prain came to the plate with one out in the top of the 12th inning. After taking two strikes from reliever Stephen Potter (0-2), he belted the 0-2 pitch over the fence in left center field for his second homer of the season. Prain finished the night 2-for-5, and his NCAA-leading batting average now sits at .471.
“I don’t think Chad was having a good night until that moment, but that was a huge moment that made the night for our whole team,” said GSU head coach Greg Frady.
Bates, a freshman from Senoia, Ga., pitched nine innings and struck out 11, the most for a GSU pitcher since Justin Malone fanned 11 in a complete-game victory over George Mason on May 21, 2011. He allowed three runs but only one of them earned on five hits with three walks.
Burns (5-2) came on in the 10th and earned his team-leading fifth victory of the season with 2-2/3 innings of scoreless relief, allowing two hits and two walks while striking out one.
After GSU took the lead in the top of the 12th inning, Rose entered the game with two outs and runners at first and third and struck out Jonathan Coco on three pitches for his third save.
“Clearly we were not on our game offensively tonight, but the game was won by the way we pitched, and that started with Nathan Bates,” said Frady. “He did an amazing job, and I thought he got stronger as the game went on.
New Orleans took an early lead with two unearned runs in the first inning and then moved ahead 3-0 on Brian Dixon’s run-scoring single.
UNO starter Stone Speer held the Panthers without a hit for the first five innings while striking out six before Greg Bowder led off the sixth with a double to right field. He moved to third on a groundout by Prain and then scored on Merrigan’s ground ball to second base.
GSU tied the game in the seventh, when the Panthers loaded the bases on Chase Raffield’s double to right center, a walk by Nic Wilson and a bunt single by Caden Bailey that stayed fair by inches. Two runs scored on back-to-back groundouts by Matt Rose and Chris Triplett to knot the score at 3-3.
The series continues with a doubleheader Saturday beginning at 2 p.m. ET and a single game Sunday at 1 p.m. ET.