The Dawgs put the Panthers on pause with a 10-3 win
On a wonderful early spring evening (March 22, 2022) at Coolray Field (the home of the Gwinnett Stripers, the AAA affiliate of the 2021 World Series Champions, the Atlanta Braves), two of Georgia's hottest college baseball teams are taking it to the diamond.
The University of Georgia Bulldogs (16-4 overall and 2-1 in the SEC) come into tonight's game winning 6 in a row in the series between the teams. Their offense is led by leadoff batter/center-fielder Ben Anderson (.344 batting average with 4 homeruns and 16 runs batted in), catcher Corey Collins (.359 bating average with 7 homeruns and 19 runs batted in), and cleanup hitter/left-fielder Connor Tate (.315 bating average with 15 runs batted in). With Coleman Willis (1-0 with a 2.45 ERA) making the start, the 17th ranked "Dawgs" are looking for their 7th consecutive win in the series.
As for the Georgia State University Panthers (14-6 overall and 3-0 in the Sun Belt Conference), they come into tonight's game winning 10 of their last 11 games and looking to snap their current winless streak against UGA. Starter Mason Patel is making his first start (he has a 0.00 ERA, but has only pitched 0.2 innings on the season) of the season; the team is counting on leadoff batter/center-fielder Dalton Pearson (.278 batting average with 10 runs batted in and 6/6 in stolen base attempts), left-fielder Max Ryerson (.318 batting average with 8 homeruns and 18 runs batted in), and first-baseman Cameron Jones (.362 batting average with 13 runs batted in) to continue leading a lineup that has 5 batters hitting over .300 and 10 or more runs batted in (RBI's) and snap UGA's run in the series.
With the team's momentum building, Georgia State's head coach, Brad Stromdahl, shares his thoughts and approach to position the team for a successful outcome tonight and beyond (watch the video below for the complete pre-game interview):
Game highlights: the 17th ranked University of Georgia Bulldogs (17-4, 2-1 in the SEC) defeat the Georgia State Panthers (14-7, 3-0 in the Sun Belt Conference) 10-3
Once the ceremonial first pitch is thrown by Georgia State's football coach Sean Elliott, it's game-time.
After a 1-2-3 first inning by Georgia State's starting pitcher, Mason Patel (including 2 strikeouts), the Georgia State offense is on the attack in the bottom half of the inning. Consecutive doubles by Dalton Pearson and Max Ryerson (his is an RBI double) gets the scoring started off Georgia starter Coleman Willis. The Panthers would add another run on Blaine Marchman's comebacker to the pitcher's mound to give the Panthers a 2-0 lead.
In the bottom of the 2nd, Caleb Stewart's first homerun of the season (a monster shot that lands at the patio of the Fieldhouse Luxury Flats in left-field) give the Panthers a 3-0 lead.
The Bulldogs would strike back in the top of the 3rd off Dawson Sweatt with a pair of singles. Once replaced by Trent Riddick, Josh McAllister's 2-RBI single would cut the Panthers' lead to 3-2. The Bulldogs would work the bases loaded for the second time in the inning when Buddy Floyd comes to the plate (replacing Parks Harber who is hit by a pitch earlier in th game and taken out for precautionary measures). After working a 3-2 count, the Bulldogs' baserunners are in motion; with ball-four being passed ball, 2 runners score to give Georgia a 4-3 lead.
From the 3rd through the 7th innings, both teams receive solid pitching to keep both offenses at bay.
Then comes the 8th inning as UGA is able to "hunker down" and take control of the game.
After a pair of bases loaded walks by Rafael Acosta would plate 2 runs, Connor Tate's 2-RBI double would make it an 8-3 game. The Panthers would make a pitching change and bring in Micah Earwood, but Bulldogs would tack on 2 more runs via a passed ball and successful double steal, making it a 10-3 advantage over Georgia State.
The 6-run outburst by the Georgia offense is part of the story; their pitching plays a key role after a shaky start. The efforts of winning pitcher Bryce Mealer (in his first win of the season [1-0 overall], he goes 3 innings, allows 2 hits, and strikes out 7 while walking 1), combined with 4 innings of shutdown pitching by Chandler Marsh, Jack Gowen, Will Pearson, and Max DeJong (they combined for 7 strikeouts and 3 walks while not allowing a hit during their time on the mound) help the Bulldogs pull away from Georgia State. Ben Anderson (3 for 5, 1 RBI), Josh McAllister (2 RBI's), and Connor Tate (1 for 3 with 2 RBI's) pace the offense.
Max Ryerson (1 for 3 with a RBI), Cameron Jones (2 hits), Luke Boynton (2 hits), and Caleb Stewart (1 for 2 with a solo homerun) are the Panthers' main offensive contributors. While Mason Patel's 2 innings are sound (5 strikeouts and no hits or walks allowed), the rest of the staff (7 innings pitched, 10 runs allowed/9 earned, 8 hits allowed, along with 12 strikeouts and 10 walks), along with losing pitcher Trent Riddick (now 1-1 as he pitches 3 innings and allows 2 runs/2 hits while striking out 4 and walking 3), looks to bounce back and get back in the win column.
Both teams have key matchups as they resume play in their respective conferences. Georgia State (14-7, 3-0 in Sun Belt Conference play) shifts their attention for a 3-game series against Sun Belt Conference foe University of Louisiana-Monroe (5-12-1 overall and 1-1-1 in conference play) at Monroe, LA (March 25-27, 2022). The University of Georgia (ranked #17 at 17-4, 2-1 in SEC play) heads to Lexington, KY (March 25-27, 2022) for a 3-game series against the Kentucky Wildcats (15-7 overall and 0-3 in the SEC).
Notes: All video recorded by Andrew Snorton. All photography recorded by Andrew Snorton and EmoryRose Photography.
Video: The first video is the interview with head coach Brad Stromdahl (Georgia State). The second video is the ceremonial first pitch thrown by Georgia State's head football coach (Sean Elliot). The third video is of the middle innings as both teams (from the 4th through 7th inning) shut down each other's offenses. To view all video, visit our YouTube playlist (click HERE).
First photo grid (all photos recorded by Andrew Snorton): The top row (left to right) includes pre-game snapshots of both teams during their warmup time. The second row includes both coaches (Brand Stromdahl of Georgia State University and Scott Stricklin of the University of Georgia), Georgia State head football coach Sean Elliott (with the Panthers' Jo Jo Jackson), and a snapshot of veteran sports journalist Sam Crenshaw with Andrew Snorton.
The second photo grid (all photos recorded by EmoryRose Photography): The top row (left to right) includes both teams and a Georgia State player on the move. The second row (left to right) includes Bulldog players Ben Anderson and Josh McAllister celebrating (from a 2-run scoring play), a Georgia player at the plate, and Garrett Spikes scoring a run. The third row (left to right) captures the Panthers' Caleb Stewart launching his first homerun of the year in left field (as it lands at the patio of Fieldhouse Luxury Flats), the Bulldogs' Fernando Gonzalez and Chaney Rogers congratulate each other during one of the team's big run scoring innings (4 runs in the top of the 3rd and 6 runs in the top of the 8th), and Josh McAllister takes a swing at an incoming pitch. The bottom row includes Josh Smith congratulating Caleb Stewart after his solo homerun gives the Panthers a 3-0 lead (in the bottom of the 2nd), Ben Anderson (of Georgia) scoring a run, and the Bulldogs rallying around each other as they earn a 10-3 win.