PLEASE NOTE: Game three of the Towson series is scheduled for 1 p.m. Sunday.
ATLANTA – Georgia State freshmen Josh Merrigan and Matt Rose led the Panthers to a doubleheader sweep over Towson, 12-11 and 6-4, Friday afternoon at the GSU Baseball Complex as Merrigan homered and drove in four runs and Rose knocked in two runs in game one and earned the victory on the mound in the nightcap.
With the wins, Georgia State (31-17, 10-10 CAA) reached the 30-win mark for seventh time in school history, including five times in seven seasons under Greg Frady. The Panthers won for the 15th time in their last 19 games and improved to 21-5 at home.
Georgia State fell behind early in both games and rallied with six-run sixth innings in each contest.
“Thirty wins is so big for this Georgia State program. I’m really proud of how the team has rebounded from last season, when we won 24 games.”
Merrigan, one of the top freshman hitters in the nation, collected three hits, four RBI and two runs on the day, breaking the GSU record for runs scored by a freshman with 45 for the season. Nic Wilson contributed three hits and three RBI, including a home run in game one.
Towson fell to 22-24, 11-9 in the CAA.
GAME 1: GEORGIA STATE 12, TOWSON 11
Freshman Josh Merrigan homered and drove in four runs and Georgia State rallied from a 6-1 deficit before scoring the winning run on an error in the bottom of the ninth inning to defeat Towson, 12-11, in the first game of a doubleheader Friday at the GSU Baseball Complex.
Georgia State trailed 6-1 before a six-run, sixth inning, capped by Merrigan’s three-run blast. The Panthers took an 11-7 lead into the ninth, but Towson scored four to knot the game at 11-11. With two outs in the bottom of the ninth, Drew Shields smacked a triple into the right field corner to bring Merrigan to the plate. The rookie center fielder hit a ground ball to first base that Brendan Butler misplayed, allowing Shields to score the winning run.
Down 6-1 with one out in the sixth inning, the Panthers began their rally as Caden Bailey and Chris Triplett singled, and then Mark Hogan beat out a bunt single to load the bases. Matt Rose doubled deep to right field to score two runs and chase Towson starter Mike Volpe. After Joey Roach reached on an error that scored Hogan, Merrigan belted the first pitch off reliever Nick Cioffi over the right field fence for a three-run homer to put the Panthers ahead, 7-6.
After Towson tied the game at 7-7 with on a sacrifice fly in the top of the seventh, Nic Wilson gave the Panthers an 8-7 lead as he led off the bottom of the seventh with his eighth homer of the season. After two outs, the Panthers added to their lead when Hogan started a rally with a double to right field, moved to third on a wild pitch and then scored on an error. After Roach singled to put runners at first and third, Merrigan and Chad Prain delivered back-to-back run-scoring singles to put GSU ahead, 11-7.
Towson mounted a rally of their own in the ninth. With runners at first and third and one out, Andrew Parker singled down the right field line, just inside the chalk, to score one run. The next batter, Zach Fisher, put a ball in almost the same spot than rolled to the corner for a double and another run, pulling the Tigers within 11-9. Connor Stanley came on in relief and got the second out, but Peter Bowles singled to left field to plate two runs and tie the game at 11-11.
Stanley earned the victory to improve to 5-2 on the season, while Brandon Gonnella (4-3) took the loss for Towson.
GAME 2: GEORGIA STATE 6, TOWSON 4
Freshman Matt Rose pitched 4-2/3 innings of scoreless relief and Georgia State rallied from a 4-0 deficit with six runs in the sixth inning to defeat Towson, 6-4, and complete a sweep of the Colonial Athletic Association doubleheader Friday at the GSU Baseball Complex.
With the Panthers trailing 4-0, Rose came on in the fifth inning with one out and runners at second and third, and the rookie right-hander from Melbourne, Fla., struck out the next two batters to keep GSU’s deficit at four.
But Georgia State was struggling at the plate against Towson starter Paul Beers, managing just one hit through the first five innings. Then in the sixth inning, freshman Josh Merrigan started the Panthers rally with a one-out single just inside the bag at first base. Chad Prain and Chase Raffield followed with singles to load the bases, and then Nic Wilson drew a bases-loaded walk to get the Panthers on the scoreboard.
Caden Bailey followed with a sacrifice fly to right center, pulling the Panthers within 4-2 with two outs. Chris Triplett singled to left field to score Raffield, and then Mark Hogan delivered a run-scoring single to center to plate Wilson and knot the score at 4-4.
Georgia State took the lead on a throwing error by shortstop Hunter Bennett on Drew Shields’ ground ball, allowing Triplett to score from third and chasing Beers (1-5). Freshman Joey Roach provided an insurance run with an RBI-double to the left field corner, and the Panthers led 6-4 after six innings.
That was all the offense Rose (1-2) would need as he went the rest of the way, allowing just one hit, walking none and striking out four to earn his first victory.
Hogan, the GSU right fielder who threw out a runner at third base earlier in the game, made a great catch at the wall, battling the wind, to end the game and give GSU the sweep.
“We only scored in one inning, but that was all we needed. The game really belonged to Matt Rose,” said GSU head coach Greg Frady. “When he came in the game, they were up 4-0 and had runners at second and third with one out. Pretty much anything scores one, and he comes in and strikes out two.
“In a game like that, you don’t get many chances, but in the sixth inning, we maximized our chances, and Matt Rose made that stand up.”