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Courtesy: Randy Wilson Photography
Chad Prain's double tied the game in the bottom of the ninth.

Panthers Win 5-4 on Bowder's Hit in 10th

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ATLANTA -- After Chad Prain's double tied the game in the bottom of the ninth inning, Greg Bowder's walk-off single in the 10th lifted Georgia State to a 5-4 victory over Illinois on Opening Day Friday at the GSU Basball Complex.

Trailing 4-1 after six innings, Georgia State (1-0) scored a run in each of the final four frames for the come-from-behind victory.

Kenny Anderson provided three innings of scoreless relief, and then Jerry Stuckey (1-0) retired the Illini (0-1) in order in the top of 10th to earn the victory.

"It was an awesome win, a heckuva team win, and a veteran win," head coach Greg Frady said. "Our team was relentless. We won tonight because our pitching kept us in the game, we played great defense, and our offense team was relentless. The four consecutive one-run innings says a lot about our never-quit attitude, and then to win it with two outs in the bottom of the 10th is a dream start for a college season."

The Panthers entered the top of the ninth inning down 4-3 when Illinois put runners at first and second with no outs against Anderson, the junior lefty from Loganville. After Jason Goldstein flew out, Anderson induced a double-play ground ball from Ryan Nagle to keep the Panthers within one run.

In the bottom of the ninth, after sophomore catcher Joey Roach drew a one-out walk, Prain smashed a double to the gap in right center, and pinch runner Trae Sweeting raced home from first base with the tying run.

"How many times have we seen Chad Prain be clutch?" Frady said.

After Stuckey collected two strikeouts and a groundout in the top of the 10th, Nic Wilson led off the bottom of the 10th with a walk. Chase Raffield hit a hard ground ball that first baseman David Kerian bobbled and then threw wildly. Raffield reached second base and pinch runner David Levy moved to third.

Chris Triplett was intentionally walked to load the bases, and then freshman Ryan Blanton hit a sharp line drive to Kerian, who was able to double off Triplett at first.

That brought up Bowder, who fell behind 0-2 in the count before dropping an opposite field single into right field, allowing Levy to trot home with the winning run.

"We just fought through it," Bowder said. "They had all the momentum early in the game, and we just hung in there. Our pitchers did a great job keeping us in the game, and our hitting eventually came through in the clutch."

Bowder, the fifth-year senior who had walk-off single in the 10th inning last season against Kennesaw State, also drove in the Panthers' first run of the game. After Georgia State fell behind 2-0 as Illinois pushed across single runs in the first and second innings off GSU starter Nathan Bates, Bowder delivered an RBI-double in the second inning that scored Raffield.

"He's a veteran guy, so you don't worry that he fell behind 0-2," Frady said. "You have to say that he is the star of the game because he had the walk-off RBI in the 10th and then he had our first RBI on the double. He's just a good team player who can do a lot of things.

"In general, our hitters made good adjustments in the latter half of the game that gave us a chance."

Illinois still led 2-1 in the sixth inning when Roper hit a two-run homer to center, extending the Illini advantage to 4-1.

Triplett led off the Georgia State seventh with a single and Jody Stone walked to give the Panthers runners at first and second with no outs. Bowder again figured in the scoring by sacrificing the runners to second and third, and then Roach drove home Triplett with a grounder to short, cutting the deficit to 4-2.

Georgia State inched closer in the eighth as Caden Bailey was hit by a pitch, moved to second on Raffield's two-out walk and then came home on Triplett's RBI-single up the middle.

Bates, the sophomore righty, did not figure in the decision but went six innings, allowing four runs on six hits with five strikeouts. Anderson allowed just one hit and one walk in his three innings.

"Nathan did a really good job, but just a couple of pitches didn't go his way," Frady said. "But Kenny came in, and the shut-down innings he gave us were huge, especially when he battled out of that jam in the ninth. And then Jerry did a great job."

Illinois starter Kevin Duchene, a sophomore left-hander, pitched 6.1 innings, allowing just two runs on six hits. Ronnie Muck (0-1) took the loss, surrenduring two runs one three hits and three walks.

The three-game series continues with games Saturday at 2 p.m. and Sunday at 1 p.m. at the GSU Baseball Complex.



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