Bulldogs power past Buccaneers

Photo provided Citadel freshman Jason Smith celebrates at home plate after hitting his first career home run in Tuesday's win over Charleston Southern

Back in the lineup for the first time in more than a month, Citadel outfielder Tyler Griffin showed just how valuable he could be to the Bulldogs in the crucial final stretch of the college baseball season.

Griffin, who had not played since he injured his foot April 9 at South Carolina, hammered two home runs and drove in five runs in the Bulldogs’ 21-6 rout at Charleston Southern on Tuesday night.

The junior hit a solo shot in the fifth inning and a two-run blast in the seventh, two of the school-record matching six home runs by The Citadel (31-22). Despite missing 18 games, Griffin is third on the team in homers (10) and fifth with 35 RBIs.

“It’s good to have him back in the lineup and swinging the bat well,” Citadel coach Fred Jordan said.

“Hopefully, his foot will respond well and we can use him this weekend.”

Griffin was not the only Bulldogs swinging the bat.

Bo Thompson’s grand slam in the in the fifth gave him 13 homers for the season.

Drew DeKerlegand’s three-run homer highlighted a five-run first inning, while Jason Smith and Mason Davis hit back-to-back jacks in the eighth. Smith’s three-run blast was the first career homer for the freshman.

The six homers matched the Bulldogs’ single-game record, set twice in 1997.

“It was an offensive game on both sides,” Jordan said. “We were fortunate to be able to score a few more runs than them.”

For the season, The Citadel has 58 home runs, including double-figures homers from Thompson, Griffin and Joe Jackson (11). That’s 39 more than last season and 11 shy of the school-record 70 hit in 2007.

Reliever Kevin Connell (1-2) earned the victory, pitching two innings and allowing one run.

Charleston Southern fell to 21-30, giving up seven runs in the first two innings and seven in the fifth.

Robbie Streett drove in three runs for the Buccaneers, and starter Levi Mauldin (1-1) took the loss.

The Citadel is at UNC Greensboro to close the regular season this weekend. The Bulldogs can clinch the No. 2 seed in the Southern Conference tournament with two wins at UNCG.

Charleston Southern hosts Coastal Carolina for a three-game set starting Thursday, and needs at least one win to make the Big South tournament.