ATLANTA -- Nick Gatewood and Mike Huggins homered and Justin Jones drove in three runs as Georgia State clinched its series with Eastern Illinois with an 8-4 victory Saturday afternoon at the GSU Baseball Complex.
The series concludes with a 1 p.m. game Sunday.
Starting pitcher Jake Rogers (2-1) allowed two runs on six hits over five innings to earn the victory for Georgia State, which improved to 6-3 on the season.
For the second straight game, Eastern Illinois (5-4) jumped in front with an early run, scoring one in the second inning, but Georgia State responded in the bottom of the frame. With runners at first and third with two outs, Will Kilgore ripped a double inside the bag at third base and into the left field, scoring Andrew Keene and Jack Thompson and giving GSU a lead it would not surrender.
Georgia State added five more runs in the fourth, again all with two outs. Kilgore started the rally with another double, this one over the right fielder's head. Huggins and Kendall Ford walked to load the bases, and Jones cleared them with a three-run double to left field.
Then Gatewood, the Panthers' junior catcher, crushed one over the right field fence for a two-run homer, his second of the season to put GSU ahead 7-1.
Huggins, the senior third baseman, extended the lead to 8-2 when he led off the sixth inning with the first home run of his Georgia State career.
Trailing 8-2, Eastern Illinois managed two runs in the ninth before Tanner Thomson came on to record the final out for his first save.
"I think today was the essence of Jake Rogers," head coach Greg Frady said of his starting pitcher. "He never really had everything working, but he just fights and grinds and battles and puts us in position to win.
"The game didn't finish strong for us, but we played well all day long. It feels good to win. We secured the series, and I expect a battle tomorrow for Game 3."
In addition to his three-run double, Jones had a sacrifice bunt in the third inning that was the 34th of his career, breaking the GSU record formerly held by Ryan Sterling (2002-05).
For the first time all season, the Panthers failed to turn a double play in the game, but GSU still leads the nation with 17 on the season.
After two hits and two RBI today, Kilgore, the senior second baseman, is 4-for-7 with four RBI in the series, while Gatewood is 4-for-8 with three RBI in the first two games vs. EIU.