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GEORGIA STATE (14-39, 5-22) vs. GEORGIA SOUTHERN (30-22, 16-11)

 

May 16-18 at the GSU Baseball Complex

Thursday: 6 p.m.

Friday: 6 p.m.

Saturday: 2 p.m. (Senior Day)

                                     

COVERAGE: All three games on PantherVision, via GeorgiaStateSports.com, GSU mobile app

 

PROBABLE PITCHERS

Friday:       GSU Jr. RHP Hunter Gaddis (1-7, 5.03) vs. GS RHP Seth Shuman (6-5, 3.74)

Saturday:   GSU Jr. LHP Tyler Koch (0-4, 7.48) vs.  GS RHP Joe Nahas (1-0, 5.03)

Sunday:     GSU TBA vs. GS RHP Tyler Owens (6-1, 4.31)

 

LEADING OFF

>Georgia State hosts rival Georgia Southern in the final Sun Belt Conference series of the season, Thursday through Sunday at the GSU Baseball Complex.

>Thursday’s series opener features a matchup of two of the Sun Belt’s top pitchers as Georgia State’s Hunter Gaddis faces the Eagles’ Seth Shuman, while Saturday’s season finale is Senior Day.

>Seven Georgia State seniors are playing their final games at the GSU Baseball Complex, including four fifth-year seniors (Rhett Harper, Luke Leonard, Liam Henry and Will White) and three junior college transfers (Brandon Bell, Jake Corso and Jake Rogers).

>Georgia State and Georgia Southern annually compete in the Rivalry Series all-sports competition. Georgia State captured the Rivalry Series the first three years and has already clinched a fourth straight trophy with a 12-7 lead and only three points outstanding in 2018-19.

>Top starting pitcher Hunter Gaddis leads the Sun Belt with 102 strikeouts (No. 20 NCAA). He is just the third Georgia State pitcher, and the first since 1996, to strike out 100 in a season. After fanning 98 last season, he has two of the top five single-season totals in GSU history. The school record is 115 by David Giancarlo in 1996.

>Gaddis is coming off a complete-game, 11-strikeout performance at Louisiana. He allowed just two runs, one earned, on five hits but the Panthers fell 2-0. In his last two starts at Texas State and Louisiana, Gaddis has allowed just three earned runs on eight hits in 15.1 innings with 20 strikeouts. Over his last four starts, he has a 2.45 ERA wih 36 strikeouts.

>Freshman RHP Ryan Watson earned his team-leading sixth victory at Texas State (May 4) as he finished the 3-1 win with 2.1 innings of scoreless, hitless relief. Watson’s six wins are the most ever by a Georgia State freshman. He is tied for third in the Sun Belt in victories.

>Senior outfielder Rhett Harper was named to the 2019 Google Cloud Academic All-District® baseball team by CoSIDA for the second time. He graduated last week with a 4.16 GPA in finance, the highest GPA for any baseball student-athlete selected Academic All-District®. He is now eligible for the Google Cloud Academic All-America® baseball team, which will be announced next month.

>Harper homered and drove in two runs in the May 4 win Texas State. In the eighth inning,  his solo home run to tie the game at 1-1, and then in the ninth, his RBI-single provided a key insurance run, and GSU held on for the 3-1 victory over the Sun Belt leaders.

>Harper’s homer was just the second of his career and his first since Feb. 14, 2015, a span of 1,540 days. 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 midway through this season. He added another homer four days later vs. Presbyterian. Despite not batting for three years, he is hitting .297 with 13 RBI in 25 games.

>First baseman and top hitter Jake Corso returned to the lineup at Texas State and went 5-for-10, including an RBI-double, after missing six weeks due to a hand injury.  He led the team in average, RBI and extra-base hits when he was injured March 19.

>In their 15-11 come-from-behind victory over Coastal Carolina on April 28, Georgia State trailed 10-5 after five innings, then outscored the Chanticleers 10-1. GSU tied the game on Elian Merejo’s RBI single and then taking the lead on Luke Leonard’s two-run double in the bottom of the eighth. Trey Horton earned his first career victory with four innings of relief, allowing just one run.

>DH Elian Merejo had two three-run home runs and the game-tying RBI single in the bottom of the eighth inning in GSU’s 15-11 win over Coastal Carolina. Merejo’s seven RBI are one shy of the school record and the most by a Panther since Joey Roach had seven vs. Mercer in 2015.

>Senior right fielder Brandon Bell is a dual threat, with a .307 batting average and team-leading four saves. The Preseason All-Sun Belt selection did not allow an earned run in his first seven appearances and recorded saves vs. Georgia Southwestern, Kennesaw State, Furman and Mercer.

>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 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 267 career strikeouts,10th with 14 career victories, sixth in games started (39) and eighth in innings pitched (258.0). 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.

>Elian Merejo 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 (6 wins, 1 save), RHP Joseph Brandon (1 win, 1 save) and LHP Seth Clark (2 wins) have combined for nine wins and two saves in 56 appearances. Two other freshmen -- infielder Chase Frady and outfielder-first baseman Josh Smith -- have combined to make 62 starts in the field.

>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.

>Now in his 13th season as the Georgia State head coach, Greg Frady is the Panthers’ career victory leader with 369 in Atlanta as part of his 556 career wins in his 19th season.

 

SERIES vs. GEORGIA SOUTHERN: In the current Sun Belt era (since 2014), Georgia Southern holds a 7-6 edge in the series.

>Georgia Southern won last year’s series in Statesboro, but Georgia State won the final game 5-4 to clinch a berth in the Sun Belt tournament. Hunter Gaddis came out of the bullpen with the bases loaded and two outs in the eighth and struck out the final four batters, and the Panthers scored the winning run on an error in the top of the ninth.

>The Panthers captured the last series in Atlanta, two games to one, in 2017. Ryan Blanton’s go-ahead grand slam in the eighth inning propelled Georgia State to a 9-7 victory in Game 1 and a series win that clinched GSU’s Sun Belt tournament berth.

>Before Georgia Southern joined the Sun Belt in 2015, the teams had not played since 2007. The Eagles lead the all-time series 63-23.


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