Orvin’s Career Day Sparks Huge Rally For Diamond ‘Dogs In Win Over Cougars
Charleston, S.C. – Nick Orvin's bases-clearing double in the bottom of the eighth capped a comeback that saw The Citadel score 10 runs in the final two frames to upend College of Charleston, 17-14, in a wild game at Riley Park on Saturday afternoon in front of 1,157 fans.
The Bulldogs (12-19, 7-10) were down 12-5 in the sixth inning, but scored five runs in back-to-back innings in the seventh and the eighth off the Cougar bullpen to complete their largest comeback win of the season and take the series from the Cougars (20-11, 6-5).
Orvin (Moncks Corner, S.C.) set career highs in hits and RBI on the afternoon as the Bulldogs leadoff man went 5-for-5 with five RBI, three doubles, two runs scored and a walk. "I was just trying to hit something hard and fortunately he threw it over the plate and I was able to connect," said Orvin of his game-winning double in the eighth. "We made a commitment as a team to finish games out and play harder and we were able to hang in there today and battle back together."
The Cougars opened the game with a run in the top of the first as Marty Gantt and Cole Rakar hit back-to-back singles off Bulldog starter Austin Pritcher (Charleston, S.C.) and Daniel Aldrich reached on a fielding error by Josh Pless (Boiling Springs, S.C.) at second that sent the ball into right, allowing Gantt to score.
The Bulldogs would take the lead in the bottom of the first as Orvin doubled to right and Cougar starter Josh Renfro hit Drew DeKerlegand (Pearland, Texas) with a pitch to put runners at first and second. A throwing error by Matt Leeds at third on a sacrifice bunt by Matt Simonelli (Orlando, Fla.) allowed Orvin to score and advanced both runners into scoring position. Another sacrifice bunt, by William Ladd (Winnsboro, S.C.), plated DeKerlegand for a 2-1 lead.
College of Charleston would retake the lead in the third when Leeds scored on an RBI single by Jose Rodriguez and Jamie Holler laced a two-run double to right center to make it 4-2. The Bulldogs would knot the game at four in the fourth when Justin Mackert (Cleveland, Ohio) singled home Joe Jackson (Mauldin, S.C.) and Pless then brought home Mackert on an infield hit to second base.
Facing each other for the first time collegiately, older brother Robert Pritcher would give the Cougars a 6-4 lead in the top of the fifth when he belted his first collegiate homer off younger brother Austin past the right field wall. Pritcher went just 4.2 innings for the Bulldogs, allowing a career-high 13 hits, six runs (five earned), two walks and struck out three in a no-decision.
In the bottom of the fifth, the Bulldogs would close the gap when Orvin came around to score after leading off with a base hit, moving to third on a throwing error by Pritcher behind the plate and scoring on an error by Aldrich in left field when a fly ball off the bat of Simonelli bounced out of his glove. Aldrich would make up for it when he smashed a two-run homer to right in the sixth as the Cougars broke the game open with six runs in the frame. An RBI single by Holler, a wild pitch and two Bulldog errors in the inning would make it 12-5 for Charleston.
The Citadel then outscored the College of Charleston, 12-2, over the final three frames as an RBI single by Brad Felder (Bowman, S.C.) would score Mackert and a double by Orvin to left field to score Felder in the bottom of the sixth would allow the Bulldogs to slowly chip away.
Ladd was hit by a pitch in the bottom of the seventh to begin a Bulldogs rally against the Cougar bullpen after Renfro exited, going 6.0 innings and allowing eight hits, seven runs (four earned), one walk and struck out a career-high nine batters. Jackson then walked and Mackert reached on a fielder's choice, eliminating Ladd at third base for the second out. Pinch-hitter Tyler Griffin (Hawthorne, Fla.) then ripped a double to the right field corner to score Jackson and Ryne Hardwick (Conway, S.C.) came on to pinch hit and drew a walk, reaching base for the first time in his career to load the bases. Felder followed with a single to score Mackert and Griffin. After a wild pitch by new reliever and Cougar closer Kyle Owings brought Hardwick home, Orvin then singled through the left side to score Felder to tie the game.
Rakar quickly untied the game in the top of the eighth as he launched a solo homer to left field and Rob Harding's bloop single into shallow right later scored Leeds to make it 14-12 for the Cougars.
Not to be outdone, the Bulldogs responded in their own fashion in the bottom of the eighth as Simonelli singled to third base, Ladd was hit by his second pitch of the game and Jackson's sac bunt attempt went for a base hit when the Cougar infield could not field the ball cleanly to load the bases with no outs. After a strikeout by Owings, Griffin then singled through the right side to score Simonelli and Ladd and once again tie the game. Hughston Armstrong (Columbia, S.C.) entered as a pinch runner for Griffin and Legare Jones (Columbia, S.C.) then reached on a fielder's choice when a slow dribbler to the mound went untouched. After a strikeout for the second out, Orvin laced a bases-clearing double into the gap in left center for the go ahead runs to make it 17-14 for The Citadel heading to the ninth inning.
Jeremy Long (Clover, S.C.), who recorded the final three outs of the eighth inning, stayed in and picked up the win in the ninth. The junior right-hander went 2.0 innings, allowing three hits, one run and a walk and got Rakar to ground into a game-ending double play in the ninth to improve to 2-1 on the season. "It was an adrenaline rush to be able to go back out there and close out the game for us," said Long. "We kept fighting, kept scraping when we were down. Things can turn in a hurry in a game as we have found out this year. Fortunately for us, we were able to grind out a big win today."
The two teams combined for 31 runs (the most in the series history), 38 hits, eight errors, nine pitchers, 10 walks and left 21 on base.
"Our guys really fought hard to comeback today," said head coach Fred Jordan. "When they (College of Charleston) went up seven, we could have easily rolled up and focused on Sunday. Hopefully we can continue to get better tomorrow."
The Citadel and College of Charleston meet in the series finale on Sunday at 1 p.m. at Riley Park. Live audio, video and stats will be available. Stay current on Bulldog Baseball at all new CitadelSports.com.