The Georgia State Panthers are red hot and carried that momentum into Montgomery to face the Louisiana-Monroe Warhawks. Their great offensive play and late pitching pushed them past the three-seed Warhawks in a 9-6 win.

Panthers outfielder Josh Smith came up big in the game for the Panthers finishing 3-5 with one homerun, two runs and five RBI’s. Smith drew first blood for the Panthers in this game as he hit a three-run homer in the third inning to the left-field wall near the train tracks. This put the Panthers ahead 3-0 with a lot of momentum on their side.

After the Warhawks responded with five runs in the fourth inning, the Panthers were in trouble and needed to get back into the game.

Kyle Riesselman homered in the fifth inning, bringing the Panthers within one run to trail only 5-4 at the end of the sixth. He finished the game 1-3 with two runs and an RBI.

Smith came up big for the Panthers in the sixth inning with an RBI single tying the game at five. Panthers infielder Preston Joye scored on a bad throw to third from the Warhawks pitcher to put the Panthers back in front.

The Warhawks managed to get one run in the seventh inning, tying the game at six. It was the eighth inning that proved to be the major difference in the game for the Panthers. Smith came up clutch with a run-scoring single while infielder Ryan Glass hit a double to bring in two more runs.

Defensively, the Panthers bullpen came in clutch in the sixth inning when they went to Ryan Watson. After the Panthers gave up five runs in the fourth inning, Watson came in and pitched three innings only allowing six hits and one run. After two Warhawks got on base in the eighth inning with no outs, right-handed pitcher Trey Horton came in to close, striking out three consecutive Warhawks batters and retiring three in the ninth.

Panthers head baseball coach Brad Stromdahl is glad to see his young team performing and growing in games like this.

“We had 29 freshmen and sophomores all year so we’ve been teaching, learning, and coaching all year,“ said Stromdahl on his team making plays.

With this win, the Panthers earn their first win in the tournament since 2015 and will face in-state rival Georgia Southern for a chance to play in the semifinals Friday.

Photo: Anfernee Patterson/The Atlanta Voice

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