University of South Alabama baseball right-hander Randy Bell combined with two Jaguar relievers to shut out Georgia State 7-0 Friday at Stanky Field.
Bell (1-2) tossed seven shutout innings, and allowed just five hits while issuing two walks with a career-high 11 strikeouts to earn his first win of the season. USA right-hander Matt Peacock tossed one perfect inning and struck out three, while Sean Trimble allowed one hit in one inning pitched. GSU right-hander Bryce Conley (2-4) allowed two runs on three hits with six strikeouts to four walks in five innings pitched in the loss.
"Randy (Bell) was really good," USA head coach Mark Calvi said. "That's who he is right there. He has had a few too many walks in there this year, but his changeup is better and that has been the equalizer for him. I am really happy to see him get in the win column. He has pitched well enough to have three wins right now, no question. It was great to get him a win, especially with the effort he gave us tonight. We're really pleased with Randy Bell.
"And (Matt) Peacock is our guy. There is a time late in the game in the last nine outs where the game sometimes tells you that you need to have your best guy in there, and I thought the game was on the line there (in the eighth inning). Bases loaded, you hope you get out of there with just giving up one or two (runs), but Peacock struck out the side and that's just an older guy with a lot of experience and composure. That's what he has been doing for us all year long, and I am glad he went in there and competed his heart out again."
Georgia State (11-11, 1-3 SBC) threatened in the top of the third, but did not produce a run. Jack Thompson drew a leadoff walk, and advanced to second on a bunt single down the third base line by Will Kilgore. A sacrifice bunt by Ryan Blanton moved both runners into scoring position with one out. But Bell recorded back-to-back strikeouts of Justin Jones and Romero Greer to escape the jam and preserve a scoreless tie.
South Alabama (13-9, 3-1 SBC) broke a scoreless tie in the bottom of the second. Will Luft drew a leadoff walk before Eddie Paparella lifted a 1-0 pitch from GSU right-hander Bryce Conley over the left field wall for a two-run home run and 2-0 Jaguar lead.
The Jaguars threatened in the bottom of the fifth, but did not push across a run. Brendan Donovan singled to right field with one out then stole second. Travis Swaggerty followed with a walk before a double steal put both runners in scoring position with one out. But Conley got a popup to third off the bat of Wells Davis for the second out of the frame, and induced an inning-ending groundout by Luft to escape the jam.
USA added a pair of runs in the bottom of the seventh to double its lead. Donovan drew a one-out walk, and moved to second on an infield single to second base by Swaggerty. A walk by Davis loaded the bases for Luft, who delivered a two-run bunt single back to the pitcher on a squeeze play to plate Donovan and Swaggerty and double the Jaguar lead at 4-0.
GSU loaded the bases with no outs in the top of the eighth on a leadoff single by Kilgore, a walk by Blanton and Jones reached on a fielding error by Drew LaBounty at shortstop. But Jaguar right-hander Matt Peacock entered in relief of Bell and struck out the side to end the threat and preserve a four-run USA lead.
South Alabama added the game's final runs in the bottom of the eighth inning. Jared Barnes, Stokes and Dylan Hardy drew three straight walks to load the bases with no outs. LaBounty followed with a sacrifice fly to center field to score Barnes and extend the Jaguar lead to 5-0. Donovan and Swaggerty then delivered back-to-back RBI singles through the right side of the infield for the final runs of the contest.
Swaggerty went 2-for-2 with one RBI, one run scored, one stolen base and three walks to lead the Jaguars at the plate. Donovan added two hits, one RBI, one run scored and two stolen bases, and Luft finished with one hit, two RBI and one run scored. Paparella added a home run, two RBI and one run scored. Kilgore went 2-for-3 to lead the Panthers offensively.
The series will continue with game two Saturday at 11 a.m. at Stanky Field.