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ATLANTA — Georgia State’s rally came up just short as the Panthers fell to UL Monroe 4-3 in Friday’s Sun Belt Conference series opener at the GSU Baseball Complex.
Nick Gatewood and Will Kilgore hit solo homers for the Panthers (14-26, 4-15), and relievers Liam Henry and Tanner Thomson combined to allow just one run on three hits over six innings to keep Georgia State close.
The Panthers fell behind early as ULM (12-30, 6-13) scored one in the first and three in the third off GSU starter Jordan Lee (1-3), who was filling in for regular Friday starter Bryce Conley due to injury.
The Warhawks added one more in the fourth for a 4-0 lead before Gatewood led off the bottom of the fourth with his second homer of the season, a blast over the scoreboard in right field.
One inning later, it was Kilgore with another solo homer. The Panthers’ second baseman now has five on the season, second on the team to Ryan Blanton.
Jarrett Hood pulled the Panthers within one in the sixth inning as he ripped a double inside the bag at third to score Gatewood, who walked. Hood finished with three hits on the night.
Trailing 4-3 in the eighth inning, Georgia State loaded the bases with one out on singles by Justin Jones, Hood and Cam Sperry, but ULM closer Anthony Herrera came on to strike out Darius Sewell and Terrell Frazier.
Herrera, one of the top closers in the Sun Belt, struck out four of the five batters he faces to earn his seventh save.
ULM starter Josh Leone (2-5) pitched five innings, allowing three runs on six hits with four strikeouts.
Henry pitched a career-long as he allowed one run on three hits in 4.2 innings, and Thomson finished the game with 1.1 perfect innings, including two strikeouts.
“What a great job the bullpen did over the last half of the game to give us a chance to come back,” head coach Greg Frady said. “We made a rally, we had some opportunities, but we missed a couple of opportunities for a big inning. We had 10 hits tonight and that’s a good job, but timely hitting is more important than getting a bunch of hits and we didn’t get the timely hits tonight.”
Game 2 of the series is Saturday at 2 p.m. and will air on 1340 the Fan 3 and 103.7 FM.