April 17, 2011

Mackert’s Homer Sends The Citadel Past Furman in Extra Innings, 9-7

Greenville, S.C. – The Citadel pounded out a season-high 18 hits and Justin Mackert belted two home runs as the Bulldogs avoided a sweep at Furman by defeating the Paladins, 9-7, in 10 innings on Sunday afternoon at Latham Stadium.

The Bulldogs (14-22, 8-13) went up 6-0 in the fourth inning, but were forced to hold off the Paladins (19-19, 9-8) who took their first series from The Citadel since 2007. Mackert (Cleveland, Ohio) led the way for the Bulldogs as he went 3-for-5 with three runs, two homers and tied a career high with five RBI. His other game with five RBI ironically came a year ago to the day against Furman went he hit a grand slam against the Paladins at Riley Park in helping the Bulldogs sweep the series.

"It's great to get a win like this today," said Mackert. "I made a few adjustments in batting practice and was able to get a hold of a couple today, so that felt good. We need get some momentum going as we head out of conference for the next couple weeks for hopefully a strong finish in May."

Mackert's two-run blast to left field in the top of the tenth inning off Furman closer Dylan Cole proved to be the game-winner on Sunday. In the bottom of the tenth, TJ Clarkson (Coral Springs, Fla.) came on to get his second save of the week to preserve the win.

Nick Orvin (Moncks Corner, S.C.) led off the game with a base hit and moved to second on a balk by Furman starter Tyler Wood. Matt Simonelli (Orlando, Fla.) then singled two batters later and moved to second on the throw to put a pair of runners in scoring position. Mackert lined a base hit up the middle to plate both runners. After a stolen base by Mackert, William Ladd (Winnsboro, S.C.) blooped a single to shallow center field to score Mackert for an early 3-0 lead in the first.

In the fourth, the Bulldogs would do damage with two outs as Joe Jackson (Mauldin, S.C.) doubled to right field and scored two batters later after Drew DeKerlegand (Pearland, Texas) walked, when Grant Richards (Morrisville, N.C.) bounced a double off the third base bag into left field. A wild pitch by new Furman pitcher Matt Plate would allow DeKerlegand to score to make it 5-0. Simonelli would single and steal second before moving to third and eventually to home on a pair of flyouts, the last coming off the bat of Ladd to make it 6-0 in the top of the fourth.

Furman would get on the board off Bulldog starter Justin Russell (Jacksonville, Fla.) when Will Muzika singled up the middle to score Reese Wade who doubled to start the bottom of the fourth. Paul Nitto then singled and both runners moved into scoring position when Brad Felder (Bowman, S.C.) booted the ball in left. J.B. Jenkins then doubled to center when Ladd and Orvin ran into one another as Muzika and Nitto came in to score to cut the lead in half, 6-3.

An RBI single up the middle off Russell with two aboard in the fifth would plate Thompson who walked. In the sixth, Mackert hit his first homer of the season and sixth of his career of Plate to left field make it 7-4. Nitto launched a solo shot of his own to left in the sixth off Russell to cut it 7-5. Russell went 5.2 innings, allowing 10 hits, five runs (four earned), two walks and a strikeout. Wood went just 2.2 innings, allowing nine hits, five runs with a walk and a strikeout.

A homer by pinch hitter Taylor Johnson off Bulldog reliever Logan Cribb (Rock Hill, S.C.) in the seventh would narrow the gap to 7-6. In the eighth, Jenkins led off with a double and moved to third on a groundout after Owens trotted to first with a walk from Cribb. New reliever Jeremy Long (Clover, S.C.) got Johnson to hit a groundball to the middle, but Simonelli's throw brought Mackert off the bag at first, allowing Jenkins to score to tie the game at 7-7.

The bottom of the ninth would get interesting as Furman loaded the bases with two outs on a pair of base hits and a walk but Long got a fly out to left to end the threat and send the game to extra innings. Long (3-2) picked up the win, going 1.1 innings, allowing two hits and a walk. Cole (2-1) took the loss for Furman, hurling a season-high 3.1 innings, allowing five hits, two runs, a walk and struck out four.

Every Bulldog starter picked up a hit on the day as Ladd went 3-for-5 with a pair of RBI while Simonelli went 3-for-6 with three runs to lead the offense. The Paladins were led by Jenkins, who went 4-for-5 with a run and two RBI while Nitto went 3-for-5 with a homer.

"We needed to win a game like this because we have lost several of them," said associate head coach David Beckley. "We had to show a lot of heart and hopefully it will springboard us into a strong finish here down the stretch. Mackert really came up huge for us today, we look at him as a team leader and he hit a pitch off a good pitcher in Cole in the tenth."

The Citadel continues their road trip in midweek as they visit Charleston Southern on Tuesday. First pitch is set for 3 p.m. at Buccaneer Ballpark. Live stats will be available and a recap and box score will follow the action on all new CitadelSports.com.

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