Wofford 5, The Citadel 4
SPARTANBURG — Wofford scored two runs on an infield single by Eric Brenk in the bottom of the seventh inning, and the bullpen shut down The Citadel over the final two frames in a 5-4 Terriers victory Friday in the opening game of a Southern Conference series at Russell C. King Field.
The loss was just the second in the past nine games for the Bulldogs (12-7, 2-2 SoCon) while Wofford (8-11, 1-3) snapped a six-game losing streak in its first conference home game of the season. Game 2 of the series is today at 3 p.m.
Austin Pritcher allowed only four hits in 6 1/3 innings but was charged with his first loss of the season after starting the year 3-0. The senior right hander allowed three runs (only one earned) in the first inning before blanking Wofford over the next five innings as The Citadel took a 4-3 lead into the fateful bottom of seventh.
Demetrius Jennings led off the decisive inning with a bloop single to right. Matthew Kaskow bunted between the mound and first base line, and Pritcher’s throw to second to force Jennings was late, putting Terriers at first and second with nobody out.
Pritcher struck out Alec Paradowski and was then relieved by Zach Sherrill, who was making his SoCon-leading 14th appearance of the season. A wild pitch and a walk loaded the bases with one out, and Sherrill struck out Seth Neely to put the Bulldogs on the verge of escaping the inning.
Brenk worked the count to 2-2 and then hit a grounder behind the bag at second. Citadel shortstop Johnathan Stokes made a great diving stop but his flip to Mason Davis covering second was late. Jennings scored from third and Kaskow raced all the way home from second to give Wofford its eventual game-winning run.
Joe Jackson led off the bottom of the ninth with a walk, and Wofford closer Eric Eck fell behind 3-0 to Bo Thompson. Two pitches later Thompson hit a grounder to third that resulted in a 5-4-3 double play, and Tyler Griffin struck out to end the game. Matthew Milburn, the second of four Terrier pitchers, worked a perfect seventh to improve to 2-0 while Eck picked up his third save.
The Citadel scored in the first on a single by Davis, a passed ball and an error by Jennings at second that allowed Davis to come across. Two hits, an error and a safely squeeze contributed to a three-run Wofford first to give the Terriers a 3-1 lead.
The Citadel rallied against Wofford starter Brandon Yarusi in the third, tying the game on a single by Jackson and a two-run homer to center by Griffin, his fifth of the year. The Bulldogs have 17 homers on the season, just two shy of their total from the entire 2012 campaign. The Citadel took the lead in the fifth when Thompson doubled and scored on an error.
Pritcher, meanwhile, settled down after the shaky start, retiring 12 in a row until Paradowski singled with two outs in the fifth. He was in trouble in the sixth when Neely singled and Brenk reached on an error but responded by striking out Matthew Ramsay and Luke Feisal and getting Clark Wise to line out to short.
Hughston Armstrong went 0-for-4 to see his career-high seven-game hitting streak come to an end. Calvin Orth had a single to extend his streak to a career-high seven while Stokes tied his career long, hitting safely in his fifth straight contest.