"In every way, I'm really proud of how we played today," said head coach Greg Frady. "We pitched well, we had some electric defensive plays and we knocked in some key two-out RBIs."
Senior second baseman Rob Lind broke out for the first time this season, smacking two home runs and collecting five RBIs. Right fielder Ryan Fleming homered and doubled for the Panthers, driving in three runs and scoring three times. Catcher Carter Sackett also went deep for GSU, his first home run of the season.
Tuesday was the 99th all-time meeting between the two clubs, a matchup that SEBaseball.com called one of the most anticipated of the week in Division I. The schools will play twice more later this season.
The Panthers pounced early Tuesday during their first road game of the season. In the second inning, senior Bryan Condotta doubled to deep center field off starter David Randall (0-2), driving in Sackett and Fleming to give the Panthers a 2-0 lead.
An inning later, GSU put together a string of two-out hits to pad the lead. After designated hitter Joey Wood singled and advanced to second on an error, first baseman Brandon Williams drove him in with a single to left field, making it 3-0. The next batter was Fleming, who drilled a ball over the center field wall, his first home run of the year, to give Georgia State a 5-0 advantage.
"We really did a great job of driving in two-out RBIs today, that was the difference in the game," said Frady.
Mercer cut the lead to 5-2 in the bottom of the fourth on back-to-back solo home runs by Austin Barrett and Derrick Workman, but the Panthers would respond in a big way during their next at-bat.
In the top of the fifth, Wood and Williams hit singles to the left side, putting runners on the corners. Fleming followed with a double to right-center field, scoring Wood and pushing Williams to third. After a pitching change and a strikeout, Sackett blasted a three-run homer over the wall in left to provide a 9-2 Panther advantage.
Mercer's Matthew Black brought his club back within five after a two-run home run in the bottom of the fifth off Francis, but that was as close as the Bears would get.
Lind added to the Panther lead with a two-run shot in the sixth inning and a three-run blast in the seventh, his first two home runs and first five RBIs of 2011.
Senior outfielder Brett Maxwell continued his outstanding play, collecting three more hits to run his 2011 on-base percentage to .789.
Panther pitchers held preseason All-American third baseman Jacob Tanis to just one hit in five at bats, striking him out three times.
Francis made his first start of the season for GSU, striking out eight and walking just two in 4.2 innings of work. Olson relieved Francis in the bottom of the fifth, and picked up right where his teammate left off, striking out seven more Bears in 4.0 innings. Junior Josh Chesler came in to record the final out of the game.
"Our guys mixed their pitches well and threw the ball in the strike zone- it was a fantastic day," Frady noted.
Georgia State returns home for a four-game series this weekend with Western Illinois, beginning with game one Friday at 4 p.m. at the Field at Panthersville.