STATESBORO, GA. -- Georgia State fell 19-5 at Georgia Southern in the opening game of the final regular-season series Thursday at J.I. Clements Stadium.
With the loss and Arkansas State's win at Little Rock, the Panthers (25-27, 9-18) have dropped to 11th place, one half-game behind the Red Wolves (10-18) for the 10th and final spot in next week's Sun Belt Conference tournament. The Panthers can qualify by winning at least as many games as Arkansas State in this final weekend.
Georgia Southern jumped in front with a run in the first, another in the second and three in the third to take a 5-0 lead and chase GSU starter Hunter Gaddis (8-4).
The Eagles led 8-0 when Georgia State cut the lead in half with a four-run sixth inning. Kilgore started the scoring with a two-run homer, his fourth of the season. Then the Panthers loaded the bases and Andrew Keene and Kalen Puckett drew walks to bring home two more runs and cut the deficit to 8-4.
But Georgia Southern answered with five runs in the bottom half and cruised to the victory.
The series continues with a 6:30 p.m. game Friday that will air on ESPN3 and a 3 p.m. contest Saturday.