PANTHERSVILLE, Ga. – The Georgia State baseball team rallied late for the second game in a row to claim a 5-4 come-from-behind victory over IPFW to complete the series sweep Sunday afternoon. Robert Hasenfelt got the win in relief while John Locklear recorded the final out to get his first save as a Panther. State got three runs in the bottom of the eighth with the final run scoring on Matt Van Horn’s single right the left side to score Chase Childers.
For the first time in the series, IPFW (0-4) got on the board first. The Mastodons took advantage of a Panther fielding error that allowed Shaun VanDriessche to reach base. He moved to third on a single from Mark Carden and later scored on a suicide squeeze executed by Ryan Beer, giving IPFW a 1-0 lead.
The Mastadons added to their lead in the fifth inning. Devin Taylor led off the inning with a double to left center off Panther starter Will Palmer. Two batters later, Chris Gottschall hit a two-run homer down the left field line to give IPFW a 3-0 lead.
Georgia State (8-0) answered back quickly, manufacturing two runs of its own in the bottom of the frame. Mike McCree led off the inning with a deep single to the hole at short, and moved up on Nick Hogan’s bunt single. With runners at second and third, Jean-Michel Rochon-Salvas drove in McCree with a sacrifice fly to center field. Hogan came around to score minutes later on a wild pitch from IPFW starter Brandon Knowling, closing the deficit to 3-2.
In the bottom of the eighth, the Panthers’ patient approach at the plate finally paid off. Rochon-Salvas drove in the tying run with a double to center field that scored Derek Simmons from first. Marc Mimeault drove in the go-ahead run on a fielder’s choice with runners at the corners, as Rochon-Salvas scored on a close play at the plate. Matt Van Horn provided State with an insurance run later with a single through the left side, giving the home team a 5-3 lead.
Entering the ninth, State brought in closer David Ferrer to face the middle of the IPFW lineup. With two outs, pinch hitter Aaron Kerns hit a single to deep center field that brought in Garrett Segraves from second and cut the State lead to one, 5-4. After a hit batter, State made a pitching change and brought in John Locklear. The righty used two pitches to induce Quentin Brown’s line-out to Theo Asher at first and end the game.
“Anytime your starting pitching does well, you are going to have a chance to win the game,” said pitching coach Blaine McFerrin, when asked about his team’s performance. Panther starter Will Palmer went seven innings, giving up three runs on four hits and walking just two. The lefty recorded three strikeouts, keeping State in the game late.
“David [Ferrer] was trying to bounce back after pitching yesterday and just didn’t have his best stuff,” McFerrin said about the pitching change in the ninth. “I knew John Locklear could come in and do a good job for us.”
State got production up and down the lineup, as Rochon-Salvas led the way with a pair of RBIs while five Panthers collected hits. “Our offense is very scrappy, and the players always find a way to get things done,” said McFerrin. “IPFW’s pitchers did a good job mixing up against our hitters. Our guys were patient at the plate and came up with the big hit late.”
Georgia State returns to action for a mid-week series against Tennessee Tech. The squads face off Tuesday, March 4, at 5 p.m. and close the set Wednesday, March 5, at 2 p.m.
NOTES: Jean-Michel Rochon-Salvas got his 211th career hit in the eighth to tie Justin Newman (2003-06) for fourth all-time in school history ... The senior also scored his 129th run later in the eighth to take over sole possession of fifth place in Panther history, breaking a tie with Jonathan Paden (1997-00) and Chad Smith (1997-00) ... State’s eight-game winning streak to open the season matches the school-record for longest winning streak set during the 2000 season, when the Panthers won eight in a row from Feb. 18-29.