Brookline, Mass. – Freshman Garrett Ford pitched eight scoreless innings and Chase Raffield drove in three runs as Georgia State shut out Northeastern, 6-0, Saturday afternoon at Friedman Diamond.
Georgia State won for the 12th time in the last 16 games to improve to 28-17 overall, 7-10 in the CAA. Northeastern dropped to 23-16, 8-9 CAA.
Ford, the freshman left-hander from Loganville, Ga., allowed just four hits and no walks in eight innings while striking out four to improve to 4-3 on the season. Jerry Stuckey finished the game by retiring the side in the ninth with two strikeouts to give GSU its second shutout of the season.
The shutout was the first for the Panthers in CAA play since a 1-0 win over William and Mary last April, and first in a conference road game since a 5-0 victory against these same Huskies two years ago.
“Garrett Ford was awesome,” said GSU head coach Greg Frady. “I think the stat of the day is that we walked no one. You come into every game with a plan that you want to make them earn everything they get. Garrett really minimized the hits, he didn’t walk anyone, and he pitched us through eight innings with no runs. I’d say Garrett was the player of the game for sure.”
Raffield, GSU’s junior designated hitter, knocked in three runs with a double, a single and a sacrifice fly.
“Chase Raffield has been the offensive catalyst for us as far as driving in the big runs,” said Frady.” There are a lot of people getting on base and having good offensive years, but Chase cleans them up. Again today, he had clutch, battling at-bats and found a way to knock runs in or move runners along in every single at-bat.”
Junior Nic Wilson smashed his seventh home run of the season, a two-run blast in the eighth inning that went well over the left field fence.
Georgia State got a runner to third base in each of the first three innings before getting on the scoreboard in the fourth. Caden Bailey led off the inning by getting hit by pitch and moved to second on Chris Triplett’s single. After advancing to third on Mark Hogan’s flyout to right field, Bailey came home on a sacrifice fly by Matt Rose to give the Panthers a 1-0 lead.
GSU added another run in the fifth as Raffield’s bloop double to center field scored Merrigan, who led off the inning with a double to the right field corner.
Ford managed to work out of jams in the fifth and sixth innings to keep the shutout intact. In the fifth, the Huskies put runners at first and second with no outs after an error and a single, but Ford induced a groundout, then struck out Justin Kessler and got Pete Castoldi to pop up to end the threat.
One inning later, Northeastern again had runners at first and second with two outs, but Ford picked off Connor Lyons at second base for the third out.
“The team wanted to really bounce back from yesterday,” said Ford. “I was able to locate all my pitches today, and there were a couple of situations where our team needed to come up big, and everyone made the plays.”
With the Panthers still holding just a 2-0 lead, Raffield provided a key insurance run in the seventh. After back-to-back singles by Merrigan and Chad Prain, Raffield appeared to drive in both with a double to the right field corner, but the ball was ruled foul. But with two strikes, Raffield managed a fly ball to right field to score Merrigan with a sacrifice fly for a three-run lead.
Raffield was clutch again in the top of the ninth, plating another run with a single to left field to score Joey Roach. Then Wilson belted his home run to give the Panthers a 6-0 cushion.
GSU right fielder Mark Hogan, who played his high school baseball nearby at Lincoln-Sudbury High, had two hits today, as did Merrigan, Prain, Raffield and Chris Triplett.
With win number 28 of the season, Georgia State is assured of a winning season, the Panthers’ fifth winning campaign in the last six seasons under Frady.
The three-game series concludes with an 11 a.m. game Sunday. Live video is available at gonu.com.