GEORGIA STATE (11-25) vs. SAVANNAH STATE (7-17-1)

Tuesday, April 16, 5 p.m., GSU Baseball Complex

 

LEADING OFF

Georgia State wraps up a nine-game homestand with a midweek contest against in-state foe Savannah State Tuesday at 5 p.m. at the GSU Baseball Complex.

Georgia State holds a 16-3 lead in the series with Savannah State, including an 11-2 mark under head coach Greg Frady. The Panthers swept a pair of games last season in Atlanta, 9-5 and 10-2.

Freshman right-hander Ryan Watson picked up two victories in relief last week and leads the team with five wins on the season. He allowed just two runs in nine innings to earn victories over Mercer (four scoreless innings) and Troy (two runs in five innings).

Senior right fielder Brandon Bell is a dual threat, leading the team with a .331 batting average and  four saves. The Preseason All-Sun Belt selection has not allowed an earned run in seven appearances and earned saves vs. Georgia Southwestern, Kennesaw State, Furman and Mercer.

Friday starter Hunter Gaddis was named Sun Belt Conference Pitcher of the Week (March 18) after a combined shutout over Appalachian State. He pitched eight scoreless innings with a season-high 10 strikeouts while allowing just four hits, all singles, in the 2-0 win. The 6-6 right-hander earned the third Sun Belt weekly honor of his career.

Gaddis, the Preseason All-America and Preseason Sun Belt Conference Pitcher of the Year, ranks third in GSU history with 231 career strikeouts,10th with 14 career victories, eighth in games started (35) and ninth in innings pitched (232.1). That includes a 9-4 record and a 2.95 ERA in 2018, when he tied for the Sun Belt lead in victories while ranking second in the league in innings pitched (100.2), third in strikeouts (98) and fourth in ERA.

Outfielder-turned pitcher-turned back to outfielder Rhett Harper batted for the first time in more than three years in last the March 27 win over Kennesaw State. He reached base in four of five plate appearances, including two singles and the go-ahead RBI in the seventh inning. Then he had a career-high four RBI on two doubles in win over Furman (April 3). He is hitting .333 with seven RBI in just 30 at-bats.

Sophomore shortstop Griffin Cheney is third on the team with a .309 batting average. Cheney played sparingly as a freshman and did not have a hit last year. But this season, after entering the starting lineup in Game 3, he has reached base in every game but two. He hit his first career home run vs. Troy (April 13).

The Panthers clinched their series at Appalachian State with a 17-6 victory Sunday, fueled by an eight-run second inning. The 17 runs are the most that GSU has ever scored in a Sun Belt game.

The Panthers are playing without first baseman Jake Corso, their top hitter and run producer, due to injury. Hitting .325, he led the team in RBI (17) and extra-base hits (11) when he was injured.

Junior designated hitter Elian Merejo leads the team with four homers and has two game-winning hits in GSU’s final at-bat. His two-out, two-run walk-off single in the 13th inning gave the Panthers a 6-5 victory over ETSU (March 8). At Charleston Southern, trailing by one in the top of the ninth, his two-run single lifted GSU to a 7-6 victory and series win.

The freshman trio of RHP Ryan Watson (5 wins, 1 save), RHP Joseph Brandon (1 win, 1 save) and LHP Seth Clark (2 wins) have combined for eight wins and two saves in 41 appearances. Three other freshmen -- infielder Chase Frady and and outfielder-first baseman Josh Smith -- have combined to make 41 starts in the field.

Senior center fielder Luke Leonard is hitting .365 over the last 20 games and now leads the team with 22 RBI.

Now in his 13th season as the Georgia State head coach, Greg Frady is the Panthers’ career victory leader with 366 in Atlanta as part of his 553 career wins in his 19th season.