GREENVILLE -- Southern Conference pitcher of the year Austin Pritcher was not at his best, and The Citadel’s bullpen blew another ninth-inning lead.
But Bulldogs catcher Joe Jackson made it all okay, belting a walk-off home run in the ninth to lift The Citadel to a dramatic 6-5 victory over Appalachian State today in the first game of the Southern Conference baseball tournament.
Jackson, a Greenville native and great-great-great nephew of baseball legend “Shoeless Joe” Jackson, won it with his 13th homer of the season off of App State’s Taylor Thurber.
The No. 4 seed Bulldogs (33-24) will face either regular-season champion Western Carolina or No. 8 Samford in a winners’ bracket game Thursday at Fluor Field.
Pritcher gave up three runs on six hits and five walks, and threw 120 pitches in just 4 2/3 innings, leaving with a 4-3 lead.
Three Citadel relievers managed to protect that lead until the ninth, when App State’s Hector Crespo tied the score at 5-5 with a two-out, two-run home run off of closer Skylar Hunter.
Drew Dekerlegand’s bases-loaded, two-out triple in the third scored three runs and gave the Bulldogs a 4-1 lead.
App State (28-23) scored twice in the fourth on Michael Pierson’s home run and Crespo’s sacrifice fly to cut the lead to 4-3.
The Citadel added a run in the seventh on a Mason Davis double and a sac fly from Tyler Griffin.