Baseball takes weekend series from Georgia State with win Sunday

With their 3-1 victory over Georgia State on Sunday, the Patriots took the series two games to one after winning Friday and losing Saturday (John Powell).
With their 3-1 victory over Georgia State on Sunday, the Patriots took the series two games to one after winning Friday and losing Saturday (John Powell).

In a home series against the Georgia State Panthers (13-16, 5-4 CAA) over the weekend, the George Mason Patriots (18-11, 6-6 CAA) took two out of three against their conference rivals. They won the first game 6-3 on Friday, but dropped the second game 8-3 on Saturday.

The Patriots looked to keep up their momentum and come out victorious Sunday.

Senior designated hitter Zach Helgeson continued his hot hitting, recording two hits on the day. He has reached base successfully for 22 consecutive games.

“I just try to let the situation dictate itself,” Helgeson said. “I just try to focus on one game a time and do the best I can for my team.”

Senior starting pitcher A.J. Johnson logged another solid start for the Patriots, winning his second game in a row.

“I was trying to bust them inside and soft away,” Johnson said. “They were very aggressive, and I just tried to pound the strike zone.”

He threw seven innings on the day, allowing only four hits and one run, while striking out two.

“He had great confidence on the mound,” head coach Bill Brown said. “He was outstanding, and probably could have thrown a complete game.”

The game began slowly as both Johnson and freshman starting Panthers’ pitcher Max Schmitz kept hitters off-balance.

Mason scored first in the fourth inning off of a bases-loaded single by sophomore leftfielder Josh Leemhuis.

The Patriots appeared ready to strike again in the fifth inning. Junior second baseman Chris Cook led off the inning with a walk, followed by a single from senior shortstop Brig Tison. The next batter up, senior right fielder Dan Schafferman, drew a walk, loading the bases.

“We had good patience at the plate,” Brown said. “It extended the starter and gave us more opportunities during the game.”

Schmitz was then pulled in favor of senior relief pitcher Tyler Claburn.

Claburn got Helgeson to ground into a double play, but Cook still scored, putting the Patriots up 2-0.

A wild pitch allowed Tison to score from third, which made the score 3-0.

Panthers’ Manager Greg Frady had seen enough from Claburn, and pulled him for senior Jake Dyer, who was able to end the inning.

The Panthers came back in the sixth, scratching across a run to creep back 3-1.

Mason’s junior relief pitcher Chris O’Grady relieved Johnson in the eighth inning. He shut down Panthers’ hitters for the next two innings, giving the Patriots the 3-1 win.

“This win was huge going into the meat of the CAA week,” Helgeson said. “We’re playing hard, and these next two weeks will be big for us.”

The Patriots  are on the road for the next two weeks, playing at Maryland, VCU, Navy,  Northeastern, and finally at George Washington.

“We gotta’ win series at home,” Brown said. “We have to get work done on the road.”

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