April 3, 2011

Four Homers Early Not Enough for Bulldogs to Avoid Sweep at GSU

Statesboro, Ga. – The Citadel hit back-to-back-to-back home runs in the top of the fifth and took a commanding 8-2 lead, but Georgia Southern rallied in the late innings to sweep the Bulldogs for the first time since 2004 on Sunday at J.I. Clements Stadium, winning 11-9.

The Bulldogs (10-18, 5-10), who were outscored in the series, 30-14, hit a season-high four homers in the game, but were once again unable to contain Victor Roache, who hit two homers on Sunday, and five on the weekend to spark a rally for the Eagles (18-11, 9-3).

Both teams got off to a quick start in the series finale as Nick Orvin (Moncks Corner, S.C.) hit his team-leading fourth homer of the year off Georgia Southern starter Andy Moye. The Eagles wasted little time getting on the board in the bottom of the first off Citadel starter Justin Russell (Jacksonville, Fla.) as leadoff man Shawn Payne tripled to center and scored on a groundout. Michael Burruss later singled home Eric Phillips to put GSU in front, 2-1.

In the fourth, the Bulldogs would tie the game after Justin Mackert (Cleveland, Ohio) hit a leadoff double and eventually came around to score on a sac fly by William Ladd (Winnsboro, S.C.). Moye went just 4.0 innings for the Eagles, allowing four hits, two runs (one earned) with a walk and two strikeouts in the no-decision.

Wasting little time getting to new reliever Justin Hess, Legare Jones (Columbia, S.C.) singled to center and scored when Orvin hit his second homer of the game to left, making it the first time a Bulldog has done that since Bryan Altman hit two against Georgia Southern in Statesboro on May 21, 2010. It was second multi-homer game of Orvin's career as he went deep twice at Wofford on April 2, 2010.

Brad Felder (Bowman, S.C.) then followed with a solo shot of his own to right center and Matt Simonelli (Orlando, Fla.) launched a ball off Hess that bounced off the top of the left field wall to make it back-to-back-to-back homers for the Bulldogs and put them in front, 6-2. After a walk to Mackert, Ladd then reached on an error at third and Drew DeKerlegand (Pearland, Texas) singled up the middle to score Mackert. An RBI single through the left side by Jones would then score Ladd to make it 8-2. Jones becomes the first Bulldog with multiple hits in the same inning since David Greene did it on May 3, 2009 vs. Samford.

Roache would cut the deficit in half off Russell in the bottom of the fifth when he launched a three-run homer to left field, scoring Payne and Phillips on the play, who reached on singles. The Citadel would score their ninth and final run of the game in the top of the sixth when Felder led off with a single and eventually came around to score on an RBI single through the right side by Ladd. Russell went 5.2 innings, allowing 11 hits, five runs, no walks and fanned four.

The Eagles would tie the game in the bottom of the seventh when Roache hit a rocket to left center that left the yard, scoring Phillips who doubled and went 4-for-5 with four runs on the day, to cut the lead to 9-7 off Bulldog reliever TJ Clarkson (Coral Springs, Fla.). A double by Burruss would chase Clarkson, but doubles by Steve Cochrane and Tom Richardson off new reliever Bryce Hines (Hanahan, S.C.) would tie the game and force another pitching change as Jeremy Long (Clover, S.C.) came in and got a pair of strikeouts to keep the game tied.

In the bottom of the eighth, Long walked Payne and then allowed him to move to second on a throwing error to first base. After a sac bunt moved the GSU leadoff man to third, Phillips singled to center off new Bulldog reliever Drew Mahaffey (Summerville, S.C.) for the go ahead run and a double by Burruss would then make it 11-9 for the Eagles who used seven different pitchers, the last being Jarret Leverett who earned his first save of the season in the ninth.

Long (1-1) took the loss, going 1.0 innings, allowing one run, no hits, a walk and struck out two. Will Middour (2-1) earned the win after going 0.2 scoreless innings of relief. Leading the Eagles at the plate was Roache, who went 3-for-5 with five RBI and two homers. Eight Bulldog starters had at least one hit with Felder leading the way, going 3-for-5 with a homer. Orvin went 2-for-5 with two homers and two RBI.

This weekend marks the first time The Citadel has been swept on the road since April 25-27, 2008 at College of Charleston. Of the 28 games played this season, 17 of them have been decided by two run or less with the team going just 3-14 in those contests.

The Bulldogs conclude their five-game road trip on Wednesday when they travel to Rock Hill to face Winthrop for a 6 p.m. start. The game will feature live stats and a recap and box score will follow shortly after the conclusion of the contest. For more information on Bulldog Baseball, visit all new CitadelSports.com.

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