SAN MARCOS, TEXAS -- Rhett Harper homered and drove in two runs to back a strong pitching performance by Tyler Koch and Ryan Watson as Georgia State downed No. 30 and Sun Belt Conference leader Texas State 3-1 to split Saturday's doubleheader at Bobcat Ballpark. Texas State took Game 1, 5-1.
The Panthers (14-33, 5-18 Sun Belt) got outstanding starts from both Hunter Gaddis in Game 1 and Koch in Game 2 and an excellent relief outing from Watson, who earned his team-leading sixth victory. The GSU staff pitched a total of 17 innings on the day, with the Bobcats (32-15, 16-7) only scoring in two of them.
First baseman Jake Corso, returning to the lineup after missing six weeks due to injury, was 3-for-6 on the day, including the go-ahead RBI-single in Game 2.
The series concludes with a 1 p.m. ET game Sunday.
GAME 1: Texas State 5, Georgia State 1
Texas State scored five runs in the eighth inning to defeat Georgia State 5-1 despite an outstanding start by Hunter Gaddis.
Gaddis, the junior right-hander, shut out the Bobcats for seven innings, allowing just one hit and striking out nine. The lone hit was by the leadoff batter in the game, who Gaddis then picked off. He faced the minimum through six before Texas State managed two baserunners in the seventh on an error and a walk.
With Georgia State leading 1-0, Dalton Shuffield led off the bottom of the eighth with a double on a ball that was misplayed by the left fielder. With one out, Ryan Newman doubled as his ball was just fair in the right field corner to tie the game and end the day for Gaddis. After an infield single and a walk loaded the bases, Jaxon Hubbard hit a grand slam to put the Bobcats up 5-1.
Both teams had five hits in the game, but Georgia State left nine on base, including two innings in which the Panthers had runners at second and third with less than two outs but could not push across a run.
GAME 2: Georgia State 3, Texas State 1
Rhett Harper homered and drove in two runs to back a strong pitching performance by Tyler Koch and Ryan Watson as Georgia State downed No. 30 and Sun Belt Conference leader Texas State 3-1 to earn a split in Saturday's doubleheader at Bobcat Ballpark.
With Georgia State trailing 1-0 and one-out in the eighth inning, Harper fell behind 0-2 before hitting his solo home run that hit the foul pole in left field and tied the game at 1-1.
Then Texas-native Dalton Davies drew a walk to chase Texas State starter Hunter McMahon (5-5). Daino Deas singled to put runners at first and second, and with two outs, Jake Corso ripped a double into the right field corner to score Davies with the go-ahead run. Deas was thrown out at third on the play but the Panthers led 2-1.
For Harper, the homer was just the second of his career and his first since February of 2015. Since then, the fifth-year senior moved to the mound and became the team's closer in 2017, missed 2018 due to elbow surgery and then returned to the outfield and the batting lineup midway through this season.
But he wasn't finished. After two quick outs in the top of the ninth, Elian Merejo worked a walk and Luke Leonard singled to right field to put runners at first and second. Harper stroked a single to left field and Merejo motored home from second with a key insurance run and a 3-1 lead.
GSU starter Tyler Koch was outstanding but was not involved in the decision. The junior left-hander pitched a career-high 6.1 innings, allowing just one run on six hits with five strikeouts and three walks. Two of the hits he allowed came in the fifth inning as Felipe Rodriguez led off with a single and scored on Will Hollis' two-out double for the Bobcats' only run.
In the seventh, Koch struck out the leadoff batter before Rodriguez doubled. That brought on freshman Ryan Watson from the bullpen, who induced a groundout and then sruck out Jaxon Williams to end the threat.
Watson (6-3) finished the game with 2.2 innings of scoreless, hitless relief to earn his team-leading sixth victory.