Panthers fall to Georgia Highlands 6-5 in October practice

Photo Submitted by Georgia State Atheltics

The Georgia State baseball team took the field against the Georgia Highlands Chargers for their second and final fall exhibition game during the squad’s fall practice schedule. The implementation of a new NCAA rule grants schools the chance to play two exhibition games against other teams.

This year’s Georgia State team features a fresh crop of freshman players—10 in total—who hoped to gain real game experience during the exhibition season. The first game of the fall was played on Oct. 6 against the Tennessee Volunteers.

“There’s a lot of excitement and motivation about playing some outside competition in the fall, especially against a really good opponent like Tennessee,” head coach Greg Frady said before their game on Oct. 6. “This is a great opportunity to learn a lot about our team, especially all of the newcomers.”

The afternoon game, hosted at the GSU Baseball Complex, gave the team a chance to work on the fundamentals they have been practicing. The two teams played a total of 16 innings as both coaches wanted a glimpse of the talent on their rosters.

“My goal was in these two games is to try to get as many people in live-game action for competition and see how they react,” Frady said. “It was just a whole search for information for me and I think these two days provided a lot of that, and I think it was really good for me to see players in game action to let me know how ready they are and things they need to work on.”

The crisp fall weather was enough to keep the offense to a minimum in the first nine innings. Both the Panthers and Chargers came through with big defensive plays.

“The first [game] was really comprised of a lot of top-end younger pitchers along with Hunter Gaddis, so I kind of expected the game to be low-scoring in game one so that wasn’t a surprise,” Frady said. “Maybe a bit of a surprise to me was that we didn’t score many runs and that’s been one thing we haven’t done well this fall. That will be a point of emphasis going forward.”

Georgia State scored the first run of the game during the bottom of the third inning by redshirt sophomore Terrell Frazier. After the game, Frady praised Frazier for his resiliency in battling through injury last year and having some successful at-bats during the game.

Junior Dalton Davies was right behind him with his own run in the same inning.

Following the exhibition, Frady noted that he was impressed by his team’s defense through the 16 innings. Frady said that the defense is something that they have been working on throughout the fall, and he plans to shift more of his team’s attention to offensive play.

Georgia Highlands scored their first run at the top of the fourth inning after a Panther error.

The Chargers wouldn’t score another run until the top of the eighth inning when right-handed pitcher Gaddis gave up a one-run home run to sophomore Keith Lyle. The first nine innings ended 2-2, and the teams took a 30-minute break.

The second half of the exhibition featured more offense from both squads. Georgia Highlands won the next seven innings 4-3, but offensive performances from Georgia State seniors Enrique Ferrer and Luke Leonard (who had two runs of his own) stood out. Sophomore Griffin Cheney scored a single home run in the bottom of the 12th inning.

Coach Frady said he wants the team to continue to focus on shortening their swings as a way to reduce strikeouts and fly balls. Frady also alluded to the issue of players relying on their power to carry them through at-bats and the risk that that poses to the team becoming one-dimensional.

Overall, Frady said he learned a good deal about his team during the October exhibitions as he looks forward to the season.

“I found out that we can really do some things in crucial moments, then I also found out that some guys get nervous in some crucial moments and kind of break from training and strategy,” Frady said. “I found out who knows the signs and who doesn’t know the signs and just the little internal things that work on as a team to be the best version of yourself.”

The Panther baseball team has two weeks left of practice this fall, as the team continues to work on critical improvements in their game during that time. The Georgia State baseball season begins on Feb. 15 at home against Richmond.