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Brad Stromdahl

ATLANTA — Elian Merejo homered, drove in three runs and scored the winning run on Daino Deas' walk-off single in the bottom of the 10th inning to give Georgia State baseball a 9-8, season-opening victory over Cincinnati in the debut for head coach Brad Stromdahl at the GSU Baseball Complex. 

Stromdahl was previously the head coach at Georgia Gwinnett College, where he launched the baseball program.

Cincinnati (0-1) broke a 6-6 tie with two runs in the top of the ninth, but the Panthers tied the game in the bottom half by scoring two runs on wild pitches to force extra innings. 

After freshman left-hander Cameron Jones (1-0) pitched a rare immaculate inning in the top of the 10th, striking out the side on nine pitches, Merejo smacked a one-out double in the bottom of the 10th. With two outs, Deas hit the 2-2 pitch through the infield on the right side and Merejo raced home second and slid safety for the victory.

Georgia State (1-0) outhit the Bearcats 13-6. The Panthers rallied from early 5-1 deficit to take a 6-5 lead in the fifth inning, but Cincinnati (1-0) tied the game with a run in the seventh.

Catcher Tanner Gallman drove in the Panthers' first run of 2020 with an RBI-single in the second inning that scored Ryan Glass, who doubled, and tied the game at 1-1.

Cincinnati took the lead with four runs in the third, aided by a pair of GSU errors, but the Panthers responded immediately on Merejo's two-run blast to cut the deficit to 5-3 after three.

Griffin Cheney led off the Georgia State fifth with a walk, and then Merejo ripped a double over the left fielder's head, scoring Griffin from first and bringing the Panthers within one.

Josh Smith followed with a single and moved to second on the throw to put runners at second and third, and then freshman Will Mize tied the game with an RBI-groundout.

With two outs, Gallman delivered again, dropping a single into right field to bring home Smith for a 6-5 lead.

The Bearcats managed to tie the game with a run in the seventh on two infield hits and a fielder's choice. In the ninth, Cincinnati scored on an infield single and a sacrifice fly to take an 8-6 lead.

In the bottom of the ninth, UC left fielder Joey Wiemer came on to pitch and issued back to back walks to Deas and Smith. Mize bunted them over, and then both runners scored on wild pitches.

Georgia State continues the Atlanta Challenge Saturday, hosting St. John's at 2 p.m.

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