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Courtesy: Randy Wilson Photography
Nic Wilson

Panthers Win Series with 10-6 Win over Illinois

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ATLANTA-- Nic Wilson drove in the go-ahead run in the eighth inning and Jerry Stuckey earned his second victory of the weekend with three shutout innings as Georgia State rallied for a 10-6 victory over Illinois to win the three-game series Sunday at the GSU Baseball Complex.

Wilson had three hits and two runs batted in for Georgia State (2-1), and starter Matt Rose belted a three-run homer while pitching the Panthers into the sixth inning.

The Panthers entered the eighth inning down 6-5 when sophomore James Clements started the winning rally with a one-out double off the wall in left field. Caden Bailey delivered a two-out single to left to score pinch runner Trae Sweeting with the tying run, and after an intentional walk to Rose, Wilson singled sharply to left, allowing Bailey to score the go-ahead run from second. Chris Triplett added a bases-loaded, three-run double to right field for insurance.

Stuckey (2-1) pitched the final three innings and allowed just one walk while striking out four. The junior right-hander also earned the victory in Friday's 10-inning walk-off victory over the Illini (1-2), an NCAA Tournament in 2013. He did not allow a hit in four innings.

"The star of the weekend was Jerry Stuckey," GSU head coach Greg Frady said. "Jerry is a veteran, he's a strike-thrower, and he has multiple pitches. We felt really comfortable having him out there, and he came to play.

"In the two games we won this weekend, we pitched scoreless the last three innings of both games," Frady continued. "Yesterday, Illinois did it, and they won. That speaks volumes for the importance of relief pitching."

For the second straight game, the Panthers took an early lead but found themselves behind in the late innings. GSU jumped to a 3-1 lead on Rose's homer in the third inning, his second in as many days, and the Panthers added another run on Greg Bowder's RBI-double to lead 4-1 after four.

Rose, the sophomore righty, allowed one run on four hits while striking out six over the first five innings. After Illinois' Pat McInerney led off the sixth with a solo homer, Rose gave way to lefty Tyler McClure. The Illini managed four more runs, all but one unearned, to take a 6-4 lead.

"Matt's start was what we needed," Frady said. "To pitch us into the sixth inning was exactly what we needed. We had a little soft spot in the middle, but Jerry came in and stabilized that completely. Between Matt and Jerry, I think they really held a scrappy offensive team at bay today."

Georgia State inched closer with a run in the seventh. Chad Prain and Bailey led off frame with singles, and after Rose struck out, Wilson delivered a single up the middle to score Prain and pull the Panthers within 6-5.

"Their pitching staff was tough all day, throwing a lot of off-speed pitches and hitting a lot of spots," Wilson said. "Guys got on base on front of me, and I was able to swing the bat well. With Matt Rose in front of me and Chase Raffield and Chris Triplett behind me there is protection everywhere."

Frady echoed Wilson's statement about the depth of Georgia State's lineup.

"We had so many clutch at-bats," Frady said. "Nic was huge, Matt Rose's three-run homer was huge. So was Chris Triplett, and James Clements, who got it started. If you try to identify one or two guys in our lineup who have a huge impact, that's not enough. We just kept coming and coming, and it feels good."

Illinois starter Drasen Johnson allowed five runs on 13 hits and struck out 10 in 6.1 innings but did not figure in the decision. Reliever Nick Blackburn (0-1) took the loss.

"In our two victories this weekend, we came from behind," Wilson said. "That's what we've been practicing all fall and all spring, to win the back half of the game."

Frady added, "To have a home series of this caliber is a great thing for our organization, and to win the series against such a quality opponent goes a long way towards what we're trying to do with this team. We're not just trying to play quality opponents, we're trying to win games."

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