Calvin Orth, Jonathan Stokes Play Starring Roles in Ninth as Bulldogs Gain Split with Catamounts
Cullowhee, N.C. – Calvin Orth singled in Johnathan Stokes in the top of the ninth, and Stokes made a game-saving play in the bottom of the frame to give The Citadel a 5-4 win over Western Carolina and a split of Saturday's doubleheader.
The Catamounts won the opener 5-4 on a walk-off double by Aaron Attaway and took the series 2-1. The Bulldogs (16-12, 5-4 SoCon) snapped a three-game losing streak in the nightcap, with all three defeats coming by one run including two on the final at bat. Western is 16-13 and 7-5 in the conference.
The Citadel returns to Riley Park on Tuesday at 6 p.m. when it opens a home-and-home series against Coastal Carolina. The teams will meet again the following night at TicketReturn.com Field in Myrtle Beach, also at 6 p.m.
The Bulldogs trailed 4-0 before staging a late rally culminating in the Orth game-winning hit. Stokes walked to lead off the frame and was sacrificed to second by pinch hitter Brett Bullard. Orth following with a base hit to right center off Catamount closer Preston Hatcher that chased home Stokes.
The Citadel survived a threat by Western in the bottom of the ninth. Danny Bermudez walked with one out and moved to second on a base hit by Attaway. Skylar Hunter came on and struck out Julian Ridings on three pitches before Tyler White stepped to the plate.
White hit a sharp grounder in the hole that Stokes fielded cleanly on the back hand. The Bulldog shortstop made a perfect throw to first to nip White by a step.
Hunter, who allowed two doubles and took the loss in the opener, picked up his seventh save of the season. David Rivera worked 1 2/3 innings of hitless ball in relief and gained his fourth win of the year without a loss.
The Citadel was held to one hit through six innings by Jordan Smith before the Western starter ran into a wild streak and walked Joe Jackson and Bo Thompson to start the seventh. Tyler Griffin followed with a three-run homer to right center, his eighth of the season, to pull the Bulldogs within 4-3 and give him 30 RBI on the year, one more than Jackson for the team lead.
Drew DeKerlegand doubled and scored on a two-out single by Thompson to tie the game in the eighth. Rivera set the Catamounts down in order in the bottom of the frame to set up the ninth inning dramatics.
Austin Mason started for the Bulldogs and allowed three runs on five hits in the third, with four of the hits and all three runs coming with two out. Bermudez doubled in a run an inning later to boost the Western lead to 4-0.
James Reeves settled things down on the mound for The Citadel, working the next 2 2/3 innings and allowing only one hit while striking out four. Zach Sherrill followed Rivera on the mound for one batter, giving up a single to Attaway before giving way to Hunter.
Sherrill was appearing in his 10th straight game and 23rd on the year, the most of any pitcher in Division I baseball.
Attaway doubled in Dykota Spiess in the bottom of the ninth to give the Catamounts a 5-4 win in the opening game. With one out, Spiess doubled to right center off Hunter, and Attaway followed with a drive off the fence in left center to plate Spiess with the game-winning run.
The Citadel snapped a 3-3 tie in the seventh when Thompson slammed a mammoth solo home run to left, his ninth round tripper of the season. It stayed a one-run game until Jacob Hoyle lined a two-out pinch hit single just in front of the diving Hughston Armstrong in center off Rivera to drive in White with the tying run.
The Bulldogs had a chance to take the lead in the top of the ninth. Mason Davis walked and stole second with one out, his 13th theft of the season. One out later, Jackson was intentionally walked to set up a righty-righty matchup between Thompson and Hatcher.
Thompson hit a smash right at second baseman Bradley Strong, who threw to Attaway for the force on Jackson to end the threat. Hatcher, who gained the save in Friday's win, evened his record at 2-2 while Hunter fell to 1-3 with the loss.
The game looked like it would be a shootout with both teams scoring three runs in the first three innings, but the pitching took over until Thompson homered in the seventh.
The Citadel took a 2-0 lead in the first on RBI singles by Jackson and Griffin, but the Catamounts cut their deficit in half in the bottom of the inning on a solo homer by Austin Neary. A two-run homer by Spiess in the second gave Western a 3-2 lead, but Jackson answered with a two-out opposite field homer to left center to bring the Bulldogs into a 3-3 tie.
Logan Cribb worked the first five innings for The Citadel and overcame the shaky start to blank Western over his final three frames. He allowed seven hits, walked one and struck out five. Sherrill came in to start the seventh and worked one perfect inning before Rivera allowed a couple of hits and the tie run in the eighth.