ATLANTA -- Chris Triplett and Mark Hogan homered and combined to drive in five runs and lead Georgia State to an 8-3 victory over Towson Sunday at the GSU Baseball Complex, completing a three-game sweep of the Colonial Athletic Association series.
Georgia State (32-17, 11-10 CAA) has won five in a row and 16 of its last 20 games, and the Panthers are 22-5 at home. Towson fell to 22-25, 11-10 CAA.
The Panthers trailed 3-2 when Triplett led off the bottom of the sixth inning with a single to center field, and then Hogan ripped the 1-0 pitch over the right field fence for his second homer of the season, giving Georgia State a lead it would not relinquish.
Triplett then provided key insurance runs with a three-run blast in the seventh inning to put the Panthers ahead, 8-3.
Freshman center fielder Josh Merrigan went 4-for-5 with two doubles, a triple and two RBI for the Panthers.
GSU starter Andrew Fessler combined with Aidan McLaughlin on a six-hitter. Fessler, the junior left-hander from Dallas, Ga., threw seven innings, scattering three runs on five hits with five walks and two strikeouts, improving to 5-1 on the season. He also picked off two runners. McLaughlin, a junior righty, allowed just one hit over the final two frames.
“Chris Triplett was the player of the game today, no question,” said GSU head coach Greg Frady. “Certainly Andrew Fessler pitched a great game, Josh Merrigan had a great game, and Mark Hogan’s home run was a really big part of the game, but it was Chris’ day today. He knocked them in, he hit a big three-run homer, he made plays in the outfield, and his effort play in the outfield was amazing. I just can’t say how happy I am for Chris. I think it was a breakout game for him.”
Merrigan, the Panthers’ rookie lead-off hitter from Marietta, Ga., and Walton High School, gave the Panthers a 2-1 lead with a run-scoring double in the third inning that scored Joey Roach from first base and then an RBI-single in the fourth to plate Matt Rose.
But Towson moved ahead with two runs in the top of the sixth. The Tigers put runners at first and second with no outs as Pat Fitzgerald singled and Kurt Wertz walked, and then Peter Bowles doubled to left center, scoring Fitzgerald. Wertz had to hold up at third base, but he came home on a groundout by Hunter Bennett to give Towson the 3-2 lead.
Rose, the freshman from Melbourne, Fla., who started at third base today, prevented further damage with an outstanding defensive play as he snagged a line drive off the bat of Fratantuono that appeared headed for the left field corner and stepped on the bag to put out Bennett and complete the inning-ending double play.
The Panthers wasted no time regaining the lead on Hogan’s two-run homer in the bottom of the inning off Towson starter Brandon Gonnella (4-4). Then, with one out in the seventh, Nic Wilson started another rally with a double to left center. After Caden Bailey walked, Triplett stepped in against reliever Kyle Paul and crushed a fastball over the wall in left center for his fourth round-tripper of the season. That put Georgia State ahead, 7-3.
“I was sitting fastball, middle in, and I saw my pitch and gave it my all,” said Triplett, the junior left fielder from Fayetteville, Ga. “I got a good swing on it and did what I could for my team.”
The Panthers added another run in the eighth when Merrigan tripled and came home on a single by Chad Prain.
Triplett went 3-or-4 on the day with three RBI and two runs scored, and he made several nice catches in the outfield, which was still very wet from all the weekend rain. But it was a play that he didn’t make that perhaps drew the biggest reaction when he dove into the bullpen trying to catch a foul ball and slid all the way into the fence.
“I did a plunge into the lake out there,” laughed Triplett after the game. “I slid and kept sliding, and the fence stopped me. It was fun and scary at the same time.
“It’s hard to get a sweep in this conference, and so we are very happy right now.”
And so is Frady, the Panthers’ head coach who has guided this young Georgia State team to a 30-win season for the fifth time in his seven seasons.
“It was such a special weekend for our club for many reasons,” said Frady. “Sweeping any conference opponent is very difficult to do, and to do so coming off final exams and having to deal with the weather all weekend is extra special.
“The whole series was well done, and I really feel the difference was our effort. Our effort was so strong the whole weekend. Today, we had people diving to make plays, crashing into the wall, going as hard as the possible could. All in all, I just feel like the team is going in the right direction.”
Georgia State continues its homestand by hosting Kennesaw State Wednesday at 5 p.m. at the GSU Baseball Complex. The game will air live on WRAS-FM 88.5.