Citadel 3, Winthrop 2
ROCK HILL - Johnathan Stokes drove in the tie-breaking run in the third inning and The Citadel pitching staff blanked Winthrop over the final eight innings in a victory Wednesday night.
The Bulldogs snapped a three-game losing streak and improved to 9-12 heading into their first Southern Conference home series of the season against Samford beginning at 6 p.m. Friday. Winthrop dropped to 9-12 on the year.
The Citadel extended its winning streak over its Upstate rival to six games while also taking 11 of the last 13 dating back to 2007. The teams will meet again at Riley Park on April 22.
Austin Mason started and went four innings, allowing four hits and two runs to earn his first win of the season. He gave up two hits and two walks to the first four Eagles he faced before retiring 11 of his final 14 batters.
The bullpen combination of Zach McKay, Nate Brecklin and Paul Joseph Krouse limited the Eagles to only one hit over three innings before Winthrop threatened in the eighth, putting its first two runners on base against Ross White on a single and walk.
Skylar Hunter was summoned to put out the fire, and the sophomore closer responded with five strikeouts in two innings to pick up his fifth save of the year and 18th of his career, moving him into sole possession of seventh place in school history and only one shy of tying Drew Mahaffey for sixth.
After John Menken sacrificed the tie and lead runs into scoring position, Hunter fanned Stephen Wallace and Brad Kaczka to apparently end the inning. But Ryan Kilgallen could not get a handle on the third strike to Kaczka, loading the bases with two out. Hunter made it a moot point when he fanned Mark Lowrie for his third punchout of the inning.
Hunter finished off the win an inning later when he retired the Eagles in order including two more strikeouts.
The Bulldogs scored single runs in each of the first three innings, with Stokes driving Drew DeKerlegand with the last of three consecutive two-out singles in the third for what proved to be the final run of the game.
The Citadel took a 1-0 lead in the first when Mason Davis singled, stole his 13th base of the season and scored on a sacrifice fly by Tyler Griffin. After Winthrop scored its two runs in the bottom of the frame, the Bulldogs tied it in the second on a sacrifice fly by Davis before the two-out rally provided the winning run an inning later.
Winthrop ran itself out of a potential rally in the sixth when Stephen Wallace doubled to left center but was called out on an appeal when he missed first base. The Eagles were poised to tie it in the seventh with a runner at second and two outs when Leighton Daniels singled to center. Kyle Edwards rounded third and was going to score easily but tripped over the bag and had to retreat.
Brecklin made Winthrop pay for the miscue when he retired Chad Smith on a fly out to center to end the inning.