GREENVILLE, S.C. – Seventh-seeded The Citadel scored twice in 11th inning to outlast No. 2 seed College of Charleston, 8-6, in the opening game of the 2012 Southern Conference Baseball Championship at Fluor Field.
The Citadel improves to 25-31 and will move on to play tomorrow at either 5 p.m. or 8 p.m. College of Charleston (37-19) moves into the consolation bracket and will play tomorrow at 10 a.m. The teams' opponents are based on the results of the game between Elon and Georgia Southern with the winner facing the Bulldogs and the loser matching up against the Cougars.
In the decisive 11th inning, Joe Jackson led off the Bulldogs' frame with a single to left and was replaced at first by TJ Clarkson who reached on a fielder's choice. Griffin then drove a double into the gap in right center to plate Clarkson from first. An error by CofC third baseman Brandon Glazer on a grounder by Grant Richards, one of Charleston's four miscues on the day, allowed Griffin to cross the plate to make the score 8-6.
Clarkson pitched the final 3.1 scoreless innings, surrendering just one hit. He earned the win to improve to 4-4 on the year while also scoring the game-winning run.
The Citadel wasted little time against CofC's Christian Powell, the conference's Pitcher of the Year, starting the first inning with three consecutive singles by Nick Orvin, Mason Davis, and Mackert. Mackert drove in Orvin on his infield single while Jackson's sacrifice fly to left field brought home Davis to stake the Bulldogs to an early 2-0 lead. Powell prevented further damage by striking out the last two batters, leaving runners at the corners.
The Bulldogs added two more in the second on just one hit while Mackert added an insurance run in the eighth inning with a towering home run over the Green Monster in left field to stretch the margin to 6-2.
Trailing by four, the Cougars rallied for four runs with two outs in the bottom of eighth inning to knot the score at six apiece. Pinch hitter Tyler Jackson had the big blow with a three-run, bases-clearing double to the gap in right center. Marty Gantt followed that with a single to left to plate Jackson.
The Citadel starting pitcher Austin Pritcher allowed two runs on four hits in 6.0 innings of work but was left with a no decision.
Powell surrendered a season-high five runs although only two were earned. He struck out four.
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2012 SOUTHERN CONFERENCE TOURNAMENT – GAME 1 QUOTES
No. 2 College of Charleston vs. No. 7 The Citadel
Wednesday, May 23, 2012 – Fluor Field, Greenville, S.C.
Head Coach Fred Jordan
"This was a great college baseball game. Austin Pritcher got out of a couple of jams. We played very solid defense throughout the ballgame and we got some really timely hits."
Outfielder Tyler Griffin
"That's the game of baseball, you play to the end. And that's what we did"
"It was exciting to play in my first tournament game. My heart was pounding and the turnout was good. Overall, it was an awesome experience."
"We came to play, and we had our "A" game today. Hopefully we carry this on throughout the whole tournament. We need to keep winning and keep playing like we did today."
Outfielder Justin Mackert
"Our approach today was to make them throw strikes: not to chase the low ball or the high ball. Today we made them pitch to us. And we fought to see another pitch."
Catcher Joe Jackson
"It was a rollercoaster ride the whole way through. We dug deep, stayed focused and pulled through"
"I hope we can keep this up the whole tournament. We just need to stick in there and not waste any at bats."
Relief Pitcher TJ Clarkson
"Today was a good accomplishment, but we are still focused on the task ahead. As long as we play good, clean baseball, and get some timely hits, we can beat anybody."
College of Charleston Head Coach Monte Lee
"It was a really tough way to lose the game today after getting off to a really tough start. We gave up four runs in the first two innings and made a couple of really costly defensive mistakes and The Citadel capitalized on them. The Citadel set the tone and capitalized on our mistakes."
"The bottom line is The Citadel outplayed us in every facet of the game. We made some base running mistakes. We made some defensive mistakes. We didn't pitch particularly well…They made one error, and we made four. They out hit us, they out pitched us, they out played us and they deserve a lot of credit. They played a better ball game today and they won."
College of Charleston Marty Gantt
"We're just not thinking and playing the way we should. We're not playing the baseball we're accustomed to playing. We didn't make plays that we normally would, and I think that's what led to some of our errors."
"We just try to play the best baseball we can possibly play and whatever happens, happens. If you just go out there and play the best that you can, and win ballgames, things will take care of themselves."
College of Charleston Tyler Jackson
"I just came up a little short. That's the way the game is though. Sometimes you make the plays and sometimes you don't"
"We have one of the best pitching staffs in the country and hopefully they will be able to fill in the void the rest of the weekend."