Panthers Take Troy Series with 6-3 Win
ATLANTA -- Matt Rose homered and Georgia State pitchers Nathan Bates, Ben Burns and Aidan McLaughlin combined for a strong outing as the Panthers defeated Troy 6-3 Saturday at the GSU Baseball Complex, clinching GSU's first Sun Belt Conference series win.
Georgia State (14-14, 3-5 Sun Belt) won its fourth straight game.
"It was a great team win," GSU head coach Greg Frady said. "We really maximized our hits today with some big two-out RBIs and the two-run homer by Matt Rose."
Chase Raffield gave Georgia State an early 2-0 lead with a two-run single in the first inning, scoring Caden Bailey, who reached on an error, and Nic Wilson, who walked.
The Panthers extended their lead with an unearned run in the second as Zach Moon was hit by a pitch to lead off the frame, moved to third on David Levy's single and came home on a throwing error by third baseman Nick Masonia.
Then Wilson led off the third inning with a single to left to bring up Rose, who smashed his fourth homer of the season to left field, extending GSU's lead to 5-0.
After Raffield walked, Chris Triplett dropped a ball down the line in short right field for a double to put runners at second and third with one out. Moon drove in Raffield with a ground ball to the right side to put the Panthers ahead 6-0.
Bates, the sophomore right-hander, shut out the Trojans (13-13, 3-4 Sun Belt) for the first four innings before running into trouble in the fifth. Troy led off the inning with three straight singles by Matthew Howard, Masonia and Tyler Vaughn to load the bases with no outs. Bates struck out pinch hitter T.J. Binder for the first out and then got Clay Holcomb to ground out to second, scoring Howard from third. It appeared that Bates would get out of the inning without further damage, but two runs scored on a misplayed ball by center fielder Chris Triplett, pulling Troy within 6-3. Burns came on in relief and struck out Tyler Hall to end the inning.
Troy put runners at first and third with one out in the sixth inning, but Burns, the senior southpaw, worked out of the jam by getting Tyler Vaughn to foul out to Wilson at first base and then coaxing an inning-ending ground ball from Justin Hancock. Burns also worked out of a first-and-third with one out situation in the eighth, getting David Hall to fly out to shallow right field and Jo-El Bennett to line out to Triplett, who had moved to left field.
Burns (3-1) earned his third victory with 2.1 innings of scoreless relief.
McLaughlin, a senior right-hander, retired the final six Trojans in order to earn his first save.
"Aidan is a fifth-year senior who has been working toward a moment like this," Frady said. "This is our first Sun Belt Conference series win, and I'm happy to see Aidan play a big role in it."
Georgia State made several key defensive plays, including an inning-ending double play in the first inning, a diving catch by Triplett in center field in the second, and a nice fielding play at third base by Bailey to prevent a double inside the bag and retire Howard for the first out in the eighth inning.
"In the first inning when we turned the double play, that was really big. It settled us down, and then Chase Raffield came right behind that with his two-out RBIs," Frady said.
"It's a recipe for winning when we score six runs, our pitchers keep us in the game and we play good defense."
Troy starter Shane McCain (3-2), a preseason all-conference selection, allowed six runs, three of them earned, on eight hits, the most runs that the senior lefty has allowed since his second career start as a freshman. He struck out six but walked five.
The series concludes with a 1 p.m. game Sunday.