Bo Thompson and Bailey Rush Lead Offensive Explosion as Bulldogs Clinch Series at Furman
Charleston, S.C. – The Citadel exploded for 11 runs over the final four innings and finished with a season-high 19 hits in a 13-7 victory over Furman in the opening game of a Southern Conference doubleheader in Greenville.
The Bulldogs (27-17, 14-6 SoCon) have won 10 in a row and eight straight in the conference and are on a double-digit winning streak for the fifth time in 22 seasons under head coach Fred Jordan. The streak is the longest since a 13-game run near the end of the 2010 campaign that culminated with a victory over Virginia Tech in the opening round of the NCAA tournament.
Furman dropped to 22-19 and 9-14 in the SoCon and has lost 13 of its last 17 games against The Citadel. This marks just the second time in Citadel history that the Bulldogs have defeated the Paladins in football, swept the two games in basketball and won the baseball series. The only other time that occurred was during the 1992-93 academic year.
The game started nearly 3 1/2 hours after the scheduled 2:00 start due to heavy rains in the Upstate.
Bo Thompson led the hit parade with a career-high five including his second multiple home run game of the season. The sophomore slugger had a solo shot in the fourth and a two-run blast in the eighth while adding an RBI double in the first and a run-scoring single in the seventh to enable him to match his career best with five RBI established earlier this season against Samford.
It is the second five-hit game for a Bulldog in the last week as Hughston Armstrong reached that figure against Appalachian State last Sunday. Thompson also extended his streak of consecutive games reaching base to 43 and has 12 home runs and 39 RBI on the season while raising his batting average to .356 and slugging percentage to a whopping .689.
Thompson was not alone in producing huge offensive numbers, with the effort of Bailey Rush being the most notable. He entered the game as a pinch hitter in the sixth and proceeded to drive in two runs with a double before adding a single in the eighth and a run-scoring triple in the ninth to give him a career-high three RBI while matching a career high with three hits.
Johnathan Stokes continued his red hot hitting with another three-hit game, making him 6-for-8 with five RBI in the series. The shortstop has driven in at least one run in 12 of the last 15 games with a total of 23 over that span. Joe Jackson and Drew DeKerlegand both had two hits and combined to score five runs.
Armstrong and Calvin Orth both extended their hitting streaks to eight with one single each.
The 19 hits eclipsed the previous season best of 16 accomplished twice this season. The 13 runs represent the third-highest total of the year behind only an 18-9 win over Wofford and a 14-7 victory over Elon.
The Bulldogs fell behind 3-1 in the bottom of the third, only the second time they've trailed during their winning streak, and were still behind 3-2 heading to the sixth. But Armstrong, Thompson and DeKerlegand had consecutive singles, the latter tying the game at 3, and Rush knocked in Thompson and DeKerlegand with his pinch hit double to give The Citadel its first lead since the top of the first.
Jackson doubled in Davis and scored on a bad hop single by Thompson to trigger a four-run seventh that included a two-run double by Stokes, upping The Citadel lead to 9-4. Furman responded with three runs in its half of the inning to pull back within two, but Thompson's second homer of the game in the eighth and the Rush triple in the ninth put the game out of reach.
Zach Sherrill retired just one batter in the bottom of the fifth in relief of starter Logan Cribb when DeKerlegand made a sliding catch in left to keep the tying run from scoring. That was enough to allow Sherrill to become the pitcher of record when the Bulldogs took the lead in the sixth, making the sophomore right hander 3-1 on the season in his NCAA-leading 34th appearance of the season.
David Rivera and Skylar Hunter finished up on the mound for the Bulldogs, with Rivera allowing one hit and striking out one in 1 1/3 innings and Hunter fanning two in the ninth in a non-save situation.