Five-Run Fourth Inning Downs Bulldogs in 8-2 Loss to Phoenix
Charleston, S.C. – Despite taking an early lead on Saturday afternoon, The Citadel was unable to overcome a big fourth inning by Elon as the Phoenix captured the series with an 8-2 victory at Riley Park.
The Citadel (20-26, 8-15) was able to take advantage of only one of Elon's five errors on the day and that came in the bottom of the second when Justin Mackert (Cleveland, Ohio) doubled off Phoenix starter Thomas Girdwood. After moving to third on a groundout by Drew DeKerlegand (Pearland, Texas), Calvin Orth (Jacksonville, Fla.) then reached on a throwing error by second baseman Sebastian Gomez, allowing Mackert to score the first run of the game.
Moving up a day in the rotation due to an illness to scheduled starter Austin Pritcher (Charleston, S.C.), Justin Russell (Jacksonville, Fla.) breezed through the first three frames but would not make it out of the fourth as Ryan Kinsella lined a two-run homer down the right field line that stayed fair by just inches to give Elon a 2-1 lead. After getting the second out of the inning, Garrett Koster singled, Harry Austin walked and leadoff man Niko Fraser singled to left to score Koster. Then on a double steal by Austin and Fraser, a throwing error by Orth allowed Fraser to go to third and Austin came in to score. Jake Luce then poked a base hit to right to plate Fraser and knock Russell from the game.
Elon (32-18, 20-6) would extend the lead in the sixth despite not getting a hit until the ninth inning after Russell was removed from the contest. A leadoff walk to Grant McCoury by reliever TJ Clarkson (Coral Springs, Fla.) would lead to run as a throwing error by DeKerlgand at third would allow a pair of runners to move to scoring position and a sac fly by Austin would plate McCoury to make it 6-2.
An RBI double off the bat off Matt Simonelli (Orlando, Fla.) in the bottom of the seventh would score Nick Orvin (Moncks Corner, S.C.) and chase Girdwood from the game. However, Phoenix closer Mitch Conner did not give up a hit over the remaining 2.2 innings and struck out a pair to earn his seventh save of the season. Girdwood (4-4) picked up the win, going 6.1 innings, allowing seven hits, two runs (one earned) with a pair of walks and two strikeouts.
The Phoenix would get pair of insurance runs in the top of the ninth off Logan Cribb (Rock Hill, S.C.) when Kinsella's two run single scored Alex Swim and Eric Serra. Kinsella went 2-for-4 with four RBI and a run scored to lead Elon on the day.
Russell (1-4) took the loss for The Citadel, allowing five hits, five runs (four earned), four walks and struck out two in 3.2 innings. Simonelli went 2-for-4 with an RBI double to lead the Bulldog offense. Brad Felder (Bowman, S.C.) extended his hit streak to 16 games while William Ladd (Winnsboro, S.C.) reached base for the 21st consecutive game on an infield single.
"Our pitchers had too many lead off walks today," said head coach Fred Jordan. "Elon does a tremendous job throughout their lineup of being patient at the plate. I thought Girdwood got stronger as the game went on. We looked to have him on the ropes a few times, but he got out of it and ran with the lead."
The Citadel and Elon meet on Sunday in the series finale at 1 p.m. at Riley as eight Bulldog seniors will be honored before the game. The game will be broadcast live by play-by-play announcer Darren Goldwater on Sports Radio 1450 AM in Charleston and on all new CitadelSports.com. Live stats and video will also be available along with recap and box score following the game.