NASHVILLE, Tenn. — Vanderbilt left 13 runners on base and surrendered a crucial, late home run in its first loss of the season, a 4-2 defeat to visiting Georgia State at Hawkins Field on Friday.
The Commodores (3-1) left the tying runners on in the ninth and the bases loaded in the seventh. Georgia State (3-3) used five pitchers to hold on with Chad Treadway getting the final two outs for the save.
“They were the aggressor tonight. They did very well and stayed on the barrels and did a nice job of holding us down,” Vanderbilt head coach Tim Corbin said. “We couldn’t get anything going with our bats and we really couldn’t get anything going with our legs.
“Just a tougher night offensively. I thought we pitched well enough and defensively played a pretty good game, too.”
Vanderbilt and Georgia State are scheduled to resume the four-game series at 1 p.m. Saturday.
The Commodores were down 2-1 to start the seventh Friday when Jayson Gonzalez drew a lead-off walk. Bulger blooped a single to right before before Carter Young dropped a bunt single down the line to third.
That gave Vanderbilt the bases loaded with no one out – but a 5-2 double play killed that rally. And later in the inning Vandy had the bags juiced again – this time with two outs – before a feeble grounder to third ended the inning.
Maxwell Romero’s lead-off walk in the eighth had Vandy back in business again. But two strikeouts sandwiched around a fielder’s choice shut that inning down.
Georgia State immediately took full advantage in the ninth thanks to an Elian Merejo two-run jack onto the left-field roof making it 4-1.
That proved to be the game-winning hit.
Bulger took a walk to start the ninth and then stood at second after a groundout. He and Isaiah Thomas were at the corners for Noland who reached on an infield single to score Bulger making it 4-2.
But Treadway got a strikeout and a fly out in a drizzling rain to shut the door.
Georgia State’s Ryan Watson (1-0) was credited with the win thanks to a five-inning, one-run performance. He struck out seven and scattered four hits.
“I knew we left some people on base, but it probably had more to do with, yes, trying to make things happen,” Corbin said. “Swings got a little bit too big for our liking against that type of pitching. And we (struck out) 13 times – and that doesn’t say win or lose, but it’s when we did and the swings we took with guys in position that didn’t benefit us tonight.”
The Panthers struck first in the early going thanks to a Merejo bloop single to center to begin the Georgia State second. He then bolted for second on a wild pitch and moved to third on a sacrifice bunt to first.
Dalton Pearson’s sacrifice fly to the gap in right plated Merejo to put the Panthers ahead 1-0.
In the bottom half of that frame Tate Kolwyck took a one-out walk and then moved to third on a two-out single off the bat of Keegan. Bradfield stepped in and rolled an RBI single between second and first to knot the score at 1-all.
Pearson started the fifth with a solid single up the middle and then quickly stole second. Tanner Gallman then crushed an RBI double off the wall in left putting the Panthers ahead 2-1.
Vanderbilt starter Thomas Schultz went 4 1/3 innings and surrendered two earned runs on four hits and two walks. He fanned four while throwing 75 pitches, 43 of which were strikes.
Ethan Smith pitched the ninth for Vanderbilt and gave up two earned runs.
“That’s a good, scrappy, older team that hit the fastball very well. They really did,” Corbin said. “Give them credit. They were the better team tonight and they deserved to win.”