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Georgia State Baseball: Panthers on the Road Again, at Little Rock for Sun Belt Series
Photo courtesy of Georgia State Athletics

Georgia State Baseball: Panthers on the Road Again, at Little Rock for Sun Belt Series

After Wednesday’s 3-0 win over Savannah State, the Panthers have won six of their last eight games. GSU has won its last two Sun Belt series vs. ULM and Texas State and split a pair of games at Minnesota.

Georgia State scored 31 runs on 35 hits in the Texas State series. Nick Gatewood, Cam Sperry and Will Kilgore each homered twice and Justin Jones once. Going back to the 7-5 win at Minnesota on May 3, the Panthers are hitting .357 for the last five games.

Catcher Nick Gatewood is the Sun Belt Player of the Week after going 11-for-21 with three homers in five games last week at Minnesota and Texas State.

Gatewood leads the Panthers with a .330 average, which ranks seventh in the Sun Belt. Since taking over as the regular catcher, he is hitting .365 with five homers and 17 RBI in 25 games.

Georgia State placed two student-athletes on the CoSIDA Academic All-District IV team in shortstop Justin Jones (4.08, health and physical education) and pitcher Rhett Harper (4.15, accounting and finance). Harper and Jones have the two highest GPAs of any All-District selections in the nation, and both are eligible for the CoSIDA Academic All-America team, which Jones made last season.

Senior center fielder Ryan Blanton leads the team in hits (52), runs (36), RBI (30), triples (5), walks (36) and stolen bases (9) and is second in average (.295) and homers (6).

With 21 career home runs, Blanton ranks second (to Georgia Southern’s Ryan Cleveland) among all active Sun Belt players. Six of his homers have led off a game.

Blanton, whose last game was his 200th in a Panther uniform, has 12 career triples, just one behind the school record of 13.

Second baseman Will Kilgore leads the team with seven home runs. He had two homers in the Texas State series and three in the last nine games.

Shortstop Justin Jones has three game-winning hits this season, including his walk-off double in the 11th inning of the 4-3 win over UL Monroe (April 29). In the March 8 win at No. 14 Ole Miss, he delivered a two-run double in the top of the 11th inning for the 2-0 victory. On March 18 in a 1-1 game vs. UT Arlington, he hit a solo homer in the bottom of the eighth and GSU won 2-1.

Junior closer Rhett Harper has picked up a win (vs. ULM) and three saves (Minnesota, Texas State, Savannah State) in the last eight games. On the season, he is 1-1 with six saves and a 2.37 ERA.

Freshman starting pitcher Hunter Gaddis, a 6-5 right-hander, leads the team with a 4-3 record and a 3.18 ERA. He took a no-hitter into the eighth inning in a 2-1 victory over UT Arlington on March 18.

Eleventh-year head coach Greg Frady earned his 500th college coaching victory in the Panthers’ 12-4 victory over Northern Kentucky on March 4. Frady now has 327 wins at Georgia State, plus 187 wins at North Florida C.C. (1991-96) for a total of 514.

Frady is Georgia State’s career leader in victories after passing Mike Hurst (293) on March 20, 2016. In the last year he has also been honored with two different Hall of Fame inductions, joining the German Baseball and Softball Hall of Fame and the Georgia Dugout Club Hall of Fame.

 

THE SERIES vs. LITTLE ROCK

Georgia State has a 4-5 record against Little Rock since joining the Sun Belt in 2014.

Georgia State is playing at Little Rock for the second straight year and the third time in four seasons. The home team has won two of three in the series each year.

In 2016, GSU won the Friday night game 7-5, but Little Rock took the series by winning 15-2 and 9-7.

 

LONG ROAD TRIP NETS THREE WINS

Georgia State flew more than 2,700 miles for last week’s seven-day road trip to Minnesota and Texas State, but the Panthers came home with three key victories.

First the Panthers earned a split at Minnesota. In Wednesday’s 7-5 win, Cam Sperry’s two-run double tied the game in the sixth inning, and then in the seventh, Romero Greer doubled and scored the go-ahead run. Relievers Liam Henry and Rhett Harper allowed just two hits in four scoreless innings.

Then GSU claimed its second straight Sun Belt series at Texas State, winning 11-7 Friday and 11-8 Sunday. Nick Gatewood, Cam Sperry and Will Kilgore all homered twice in the series as the Panthers pounded out 36 hits and 31 runs.

 

 

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