SCHEDULE UPDATE: Due to rain forecasted for Sunday, Georgia State and Jacksonville will play a doubleheader Saturday, beginning at 2 p.m.
ATLANTA -- Jack Thompson homered, Will Kilgore drove in three runs and the Panthers turned four double plays as Georgia State downed Jacksonville 6-2 in their Friday series opener at the GSU Baseball Complex.
Sophomore Hunter Gaddis earned his second win of the season with another strong start, and relievers Brandon Baker and Brandon Bell combined for 2.2 innings of scoreless relief to help the Panthers improve to 3-2 on the season.
Gaddis (2-0), the 6-5 right-hander, pitched 6.1 innings, allowing two runs but only one earned on six hits with four strikeouts and two walks.
"We beat a good pitcher, but our No. 1 guy pitched pretty dang good tonight," head coach Greg Frady said. "Hunter Gaddis pitched us into the seventh inning. When you're on Friday night and your starter pitches into the seventh inning, you know you've got a good guy."
In a 2-2 game, Thompson, the Panthers' senior first baseman, hit an opposite-field, solo home run, his first of the season, with two outs in the fourth inning to give GSU a lead it would not surrender.
"The hero was Will Kilgore; he had a 3-for-3 day with three RBI," Frady said. "But Jack Thompson's was really huge for us. It gave us the lead and really energized the team. That was a ver decisive, physical play, and that's what we expect from our seniors."
Thompson described the at bat. "I got a fastball [on the] outer half," he said. "I've been working hard on working away with power and trusting my hands late. I talked to the ball a little bit when I was rounding the bases, asking it to stretch a little bit because 'oppo' home runs don't happen very often. It felt good!"
With GSU still holding that one-run lead, Nick Gatewood led off the sixth inning with a single, and then Ryan Glass doubled to put runners at second and third. After Thompson was intentionally walked to load the bases with one out, Luke Leonard brought home one run with a sacrifice fly, and then Kilgore ripped a double inside the bag at third to score two more for a 6-2 lead.
Kilgore also delivered an RBI-single in the second inning, and Gatewood drove in the Panthers first run with a first-inning groundout.
Jacksonville (3-2) mounted threats by putting the first two runners on in both the eighth and ninth innings, but the Panthers slammed the door both time with inning-ending double plays. In the eighth, Baker rolled a 6-4-3 ground ball, and in the ninth, freshman Andrew Keene, who was inserted into left field for defense, caught a medium-deep fly ball and doubled off the runner at second base to end the game.
The Panthers ended the first inning with a double play on a ball back to the pitcher, and in the fifth, Gaddis and Gatewood combined for a strike out-throw out. That gives GSU 11 double plays in the first five games after entering the weekend tied for second nationally, behind Oregon State, which entered the day with nine.