It was worth the wait.
The Citadel baseball team was five outs away from clinching the outright Southern Conference regular season title Friday night at Georgia Southern when the game was suspended by rain.
The Bulldogs came back Saturday afternoon to seize sole possession of the championship by finishing out a 7-2 victory, and then polished off a three-game sweep of the Eagles with a 5-2 win.
Sophomore first baseman Justin Mackert homered in all three games of the series in Statesboro, Ga., and senior Bryan Altman slugged two homers in the clinching 7-2 victory.
"The drama wasn't there in that first game," Altman said of having to wait overnight to claim the title. "But we enjoyed it just as much. We knew what was at stake, and that's all that really matters."
The weekend's work left The Citadel with an eight-game winning streak and the No. 1 seed heading into the SoCon tournament starting
Wednesday at Riley Park.
It should also put the Bulldogs (38-20, 24-6) on firmer ground for an at-large bid to the NCAA Regionals should they fail to win the tournament and the SoCon's automatic bid.
No Citadel team has ever won more SoCon regular-season games than this year's squad; coach Fred Jordan's 1999 team went 24-5 on the way to regular-season and tournament titles.
"This team has impressed me all year long," said Jordan, who has won 11 SoCon regular-season and tournament titles in 19 seasons. "The way they showed up ready to play game-in and game-out. Our weekend ballclub is pretty good. This is a very, very good league, and to lead it from the opening weekend to the final weekend is pretty impressive."
As the top seed, The Citadel will face No. 8 seed Furman at 5 p.m. Wednesday; No. 2 College of Charleston will open the tournament at 9 a.m. Wednesday against No. 7 Appalachian State.
At 22-8 in the SoCon and No. 26 in the RPI, the Cougars have likely locked up an at-large bid to the NCAA Regionals. The Citadel is at No. 43 in the RPI, with third-seeded Georgia Southern (34-22, 19-11) and fourth-seeded Elon (36-20, 19-11) also on the NCAA bubble at No. 47 and No. 56 in, respectively.
In The Citadel's clinching 7-2 victory carried over from Friday night, Altman hit a solo homer in the second inning and a two-run shot in the sixth. Mackert and Grant Richards added solo homers, and Matt Simonelli had an RBI double in the fifth and a run-scoring single in the seventh.
Starting pitcher Matt Talley worked seven innings, giving up two runs with five strikeouts, to improve his record to 7-3.
In Saturday's second game, a 5-2 victory, Mackert hit a solo homer, his fifth of the season, to key a three-run fourth. Simonelli smacked an RBI double, stole third and scored on Altman's sacrifice fly.
Brad Felder walked, stole second and scored on Altman's single to left in the sixth. And in the eighth, the Bulldogs scored a run on an error, a single, a walk and a hit batter for a 5-1 lead.
Freshman pitcher Michael Clevinger allowed one run on five hits through six innings to move his record to 5-2.