The Citadel’s Skid Reaches Nine Games in 7-5 Loss to Duke
Charleston, S.C. – The Citadel Baseball team rallied from a three-run deficit to take a 5-3 lead in the fourth inning on Tuesday evening at Riley Park, but could not hold the lead as Duke handed the Bulldogs their ninth consecutive defeat, 7-5, in the final home game of the 2011 season.
Duke (25-28) took an early 3-0 lead in the second inning off David Leeth (Hartsville, S.C.), who was making his first career start on a night where several Bulldogs pitchers got work in. Matt Berzero led off with a single. After a strikeout, Angelo LaBruna walked and leadoff man Jeff Kremer doubled home Bezero. An RBI single by Dennis O'Grady and a sac fly by Chris Marconcini would make it 3-0.
Jeremy Long (Clover, S.C.) then worked the next 1.1 innings of scoreless ball while striking out a pair. The Bulldogs would plate five in the fourth inning off Duke starter Dillon Haviland. William Ladd (Winnsboro, S.C.) led off with an infield hit and moved to second when Justin Mackert (Cleveland, Ohio) singled deep in the hole at shortstop. After Joe Jackson (Mauldin, S.C.) laid down a sac bunt to move the runners in scoring position, Brad Felder (Bowman, S.C.) roped a two-run double into right field to plate both runners. Legare Jones (Columbia, S.C.) then reached when LaBruna booted the ball at shortstop, allowing Felder to score on the play to tie the game at 3-3.
After a walk to Josh Pless (Boiling Springs, S.C.) and Drew DeKerlegand (Pearland, Texas), Duke brought in Chase Bebout to relieve Haviland. Matt Simonelli (Orlando, Fla.) lined a two-run double down the left field line, scoring Jones and Pless to make it 5-3 for The Citadel.
That would be all the offense the Bulldogs would muster in the game though as Bebout settled down and combined with Joe Pedevillano and Drew Van Orden to shutout The Citadel for the remainder of the contest. Van Orden (3-5) hurled the final 3.1 innings, allowing just one hit and a strikeout to pick the win.
The Blue Devils would tie the game in the fifth off Bulldog reliever Logan Cribb (Rock Hill, S.C.) when Marconcini was hit by a pitch and David Perkins singled to put two aboard. The two would move up a base on a wild pitch by Cribb and another wild pitch would score Marconcini. An RBI single by Marcus Stroman would plate Perkins to knot the game at 5-5.
Duke would take advantage of a Bulldog error in the seventh when Perkins walked and moved to third when Stroman reached on a two-base error by Jones at shortstop. An RBI ground out by Jordan Betts off Bulldog reliever Justin Russell (Jacksonville, Fla.) would make it 6-5. Russell (1-6) was tabbed with the loss after going 2.0 innings and allowing one hit, one unearned run and a walk.
In the ninth, the Blue Devils would get an insurance run when Marconcini led off with a double off reliever TJ Clarkson (Coral Springs, Fla.). After a walk to Stroman put two aboard, a wild pitch by Clarkson put the two in scoring position. With two outs, Berezo singled to left to score Marconcini and Stroman was gunned down at the plate trying to score from a strike by Ladd in left.
Simonelli and Felder both picked up a pair of RBI, while Jones went 2-for-4 with a run to lead the Bulldog offense. Bezero went 3-for-5 with a run and an RBI while Marconcini and Perkins each scored a pair of runs to lead the Blue Devils.
The Bulldogs (20-33) now turn their attention to the final three-games of the season in a critical battle at Western Carolina beginning Thursday at 6 p.m. Three teams (The Citadel, Western Carolina and Wofford) remain in contention for the eighth and final spot in the 2011 Southern Conference Tournament. The two scenarios that allow The Citadel to make the tournament include a series sweep of the Catamounts and two losses by Wofford, which hosts UNC Greensboro this weekend. The other possibility includes winning two at Western Carolina and UNCG sweeping the Terriers in Spartanburg.
"Leeth struggled to find the strike zone early, but we managed to overcome that and battle back," said head coach Fred Jordan. "They took advantage of some mistakes and got a big hit late to put it away. We worked to get back in it and hopefully this weekend things will go our way. This team is certainly working hard."
The Citadel begins their final regular season series in Cullowhee, N.C. on Thursday at 6 p.m. against Western Carolina. Live stats will be available along with a recap and box score following the game on all new CitadelSports.com.