ATLANTA – Connor Kimple delivered a solo home run in the top of the ninth inning to break up a 4-4 deadlock and three Louisiana Ragin’ Cajuns pitchers combined to hand Georgia State its third loss in 20 games at home this season with a 5-4 win in the opening game of a Sun Belt Conference series on Friday at the GSU Baseball Complex.
The series will resume on Saturday in a 3 p.m. CT contest. The game will be streamed live on ESPN+ and can be heard in the Lafayette area on KPEL-FM (96.5), the Varsity Network and the #GeauxCajuns app.
Kimple, who finished 3-for-5 in the game, hit his seventh home run of the season as he belted an 0-and-2 pitch from Georgia State reliever Cameron Jones (2-3) over the center-field fence to break up a 4-all contest.
Jake Hammond (2-0) pitched the final 3.0 innings for Louisiana, allowing one hit and striking out four to earn the win. Brandon Talley and Bo Bonds each pitched 3.0 innings for the Ragin’ Cajuns with each scattering five hits and combining for five strikeouts on the mound.
Louisiana (21-16, 10-6 SBC) took a 2-0 lead in the second inning as Julian Brock and Warnner Rincones each drove in runs off GSU starter Trey Horton. The Ragin’ Cajuns added a run in the third when Heath Hood singled to right field before the Panthers clawed their way back into the game.
Max Ryerson posted his 14th home run of the season for Georgia State (24-14, 10-6 SBC) in the third inning off Talley with a two-run shot that scored Kyle Hilton. The Panthers then added a run to tie the game in the fourth inning on Hilton’s sacrifice fly before Josh Smith homered in the sixth to give Georgia State its first lead in the game.
The Ragin’ Cajuns would knot the game at 4-4 in the seventh when Tyler Robertson hit a two-out single through the left side off GSU reliver Seth Clark.
Hammond came in to relieve Bonds in the seventh after Georgia State placed a pair of runners in scoring position as Ryerson led off with a single and moved to third on Griffin Cheney’s double to right.
The right-hander fanned Jones and Luke Boynton for the first two outs of the inning before getting DeAngelo Abboud to fly out to center to keep the Panthers from going ahead.
Louisiana’s defense made a key play in the eighth to keep Georgia State off the board after Smith led off with a single. Dalton Pearson was thrown out on a sacrifice bunt and Smith attempted to take third on the play, but Carson Roccaforte’s throw across the diamond from first was hauled in by Kyle DeBarge who made the tag for the double play.
Hammond, who earned his first win since Feb. 22, retired Georgia State in order in the bottom of the ninth, fanning pinch-hitter Will Mize and Ryerson before getting Cheney to fly out to right to seal the win.
Roccaforte went 2-for-5 for Louisiana, which collected 11 hits in the game and won for the 12th time in the last 17 games. Hood and Brock each recorded a pair of hits for the Ragin’ Cajuns while Robertson went 1-for-4 and Rincones 1-for-3.
Ryerson and Smith each recorded three hits for Georgia State, which had its nine-game win streak at home snapped after suffering its first loss on its home field since March 13. Horton scattered eight hits and fanned five in 6.1 innings for the Panthers while Jones struck out five and allowed one hit in 2.0 innings of work.
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