Wilmington, N.C.—Derek Simmons scored the tying run in the eighth inning and then delivered a walk-off single in the bottom of the ninth to lift the Georgia State baseball team to a 6-5 victory over Northeastern in the first round of the Colonial Athletic Association Baseball Championship Wednesday at UNC Wilmington’s Brooks Field.
Georgia State (36-20) advances to play Thursday at 7 p.m. against third-seeded UNC Wilmington, which defeated fourth-seeded Old Dominon. Northeastern (28-24) falls into the loser’s bracket against Delaware at 12 noon Thursday.
After Northeastern scored two runs in the top of the eighth take a 5-4 lead, Simmons reached base and advanced to second on a throwing error by the shortstop, moved over to third on a wild pitch and then came home on a passed ball to tie the game at 5-all after eight.
Then the senior from Duluth, Ga., came up with two outs in the ninth and runners at first and second. He singled sharply to left field to bring home Mike McCree, whose two-out walk started the rally. After McCree stole second, Nick Hogan was intentionally walked to bring up Simmons.
“All I can say is wow,” said Simmons. “Mike did a great job of getting on base, and so did Nick. [Northeastern pitcher Les Williams] threw me a first pitch curve ball. I had a feeling he would come back with that and luckily I stayed on it.”
McCree also drove in two runs for the Panthers, and Bradley Logan belted his sixth home run of the season and the 23rd of his career.
Justin Malone (1-0) pitched a scoreless ninth inning to earn the victory, his first.
"I'm very proud of our team," said Georgia State head coach Greg Frady. "In all of the situations where we could have let the game get away from us, we stayed calm and we made big plays.
"We tip our hat to Northeastern. They played very hard, they were very aggressive and well-prepared, but in the end, our ball club did what we needed to do. We found a way to win."
The Panthers led 4-2 after six innings when Northeastern led off the seventh with three straight singles to pull within 4-3 as Steve Tamsin drove home Miller.
John Locklear came on to relieve Panther starter Aidan Francis but walked Donaldson to load the bases with no outs. But the senior righty struck out Pesanello, then induced a double-play ground ball from Stokes to get out of the jam. Shortstop Chase Childers fielded the slow hopper and managed to step on second and then throw out Pesanello at first to end the inning.
In the top of the eighth, the Huskies had runners at first and second with one out when Matt Miller singled to right field. Jeff Dunlap tripped while rounding third base and was tagged out in a rundown, but that allowed the runners to move up to second and third, and Ryan Maguire and Miller both scored on Frank Compagnone’s RBI-single, putting Northeastern ahead, 5-4.
Both starting pitchers were effective but neither figured in the decision. Francis, the sophomore lefty from Australia, scattered three runs and eight hits over six-plus innings, with eight strikeouts and two walks.
Northeastern’s Trevor Smith blanked the Panther for the first four innings and allowed three runs on just four hits while walking none over his five innings. Les Williams (1-3) relieved Smith and took the loss.
After four scoreless innings, Northeastern got on the board first with a run in the top of the fifth. Steve Tamsin drew a two-out walk, stole second and then scored on James Donaldson’s single to left field.
One pitch earlier, Georgia State appeared to have Tamsin picked off as he took off for second base, but first baseman Bradley Logan dropped the throw from Francis and was unable to get Tamsin.
The Panthers answered with three runs in the bottom of the inning to take a 3-1 lead. Matt Van Horn led off the frame with a single to right field, then moved to third when catcher Frank Pesanello threw wildly to first base on an attempted pickoff.
After Van Horn scored on a groundout by Marc Mimeault to tie the game, Brandon Williams reached on a fielding error by shortstop Ryan Maguire. Then Carl Moniz doubled to the leftfield corner, giving the Panthers runners and second and third with one out.
Mike McCree’s single up the middle brought home both runners and gave the Panthers a 3-1 advantage through five.
Northeastern closed the gap on a solo home run by Brendan Stokes in the seventh, but Logan answered with his solo blast to left field on the first pitch he saw from Williams to put the Panthers ahead 4-2 after seven innings. Logan’s homer was the 200th hit of his career and moved him into a tie for 10th place on the Panthers’ career home run list.