Citadel Rally Falls Short as Samford Takes Opening Game of SoCon Series
CHARLESTON, SC -
The Citadel scored twice in the ninth and brought the tying run to the plate before Samford was able escape with a 5-3 victory in the opening game of a Southern Conference series at Riley Park.
The Citadel dropped to 0-4 in league play for the first time since starting the 2005 conference schedule with five losses. The Bulldogs (9-13 overall) will look to snap that skid in the middle game of the set which is scheduled for Saturday at 2 p.m.
Samford was playing its first SoCon game of the year and snapped a five-game losing streak to improve to 12-9.
The Citadel managed only two hits over the first eight innings against Samford starter Alex Ledford and trailed 5-1 heading into the bottom of the ninth. Tyler Griffin and Drew DeKerlegand doubled that hit total with leadoff singles to bring in Samford closer Andres Gracia.
Calvin Orth reached on an error to load the bases with still nobody out, but Gracia made up for the miscue when he induced Johnathan Stokes to ground into a double play, making it 5-2. Ryan Kilgallen followed with an RBI single, his second hit of the game, to pull the Bulldogs within two runs before Gracia struck out Bailey Rush to quell the uprising.
Samford broke up three innings of hitless ball by both Ledford and Citadel starter Logan Cribb with five hits and four runs in the top of the fourth to take a 4-0 lead. With two already in, Caleb Bryson supplied the big blow of the inning with a two-run double into the left field corner.
Outside of the decisive fourth, Cribb turned in a solid performance, allowing just two other hits and one run in his other 5.1 innings. He finished the night with four strikeouts and one walk in falling to 1-3 on the year.
Zach Sherrill relieved Cribb with one out in the seventh and worked 2.2 shutout innings, allowing only one hit while striking out a pair. He was making his 91st career appearance for The Citadel, moving him into sole possession of seventh place in school history in that department.
Ledford (4-1) was charged with four hits and all three Citadel runs while walking three and fanning a trio of Bulldog batters. Gracia picked up his fifth save of the year.
After Samford jumped out to the lead, The Citadel reached Ledford for its first hit with two outs in the bottom of the fourth on a Bo Thompson drive that hit the top of the scoreboard and bounced over the fence in left. The round tripper was his fifth of the season and 22nd of his career, moving him into a tie for 13th in school history with Jon Aughey.
Thompson continued his red-hot career hitting against Samford. The junior slugger has 13 hits in 28 at bats in seven games (.464) with five home runs and nine RBI. He had three homers in the opening game of the series against Samford a year ago at Riley Park.
Following Thompson's homer, The Citadel got two runners on in the fifth and sixth on three walks and a hit batter, but Ledford was able to wriggle out of both jams. Samford added an insurance run in the seventh on three singles including an RBI base hit by Brandon Powell.
Southpaw James Reeves, coming off a 15-strikeout performance at Davidson last weekend, will start for The Citadel on Saturday and will be opposed by Samford righty Jared Brasher.