Two comebacks in two days was too much to ask for The Citadel's baseball team.
After a 9-7 loss to No. 2 seed Davidson on Wednesday at Riley Park, the 10th-seeded Bulldogs face an elimination game Thursday against No. 6 Wofford at 1 p.m.
Either The Citadel's disappointing season will come to a disappointing end, or the Bulldogs' drive for a miracle finish in the Southern Conference tournament will continue.
"Realistically, yeah, tomorrow could be my last day," said Citadel left fielder Drew DeKerlegand, one of seven seniors on the team. "But I want to play three or four more games and win a championship. It's difficult realizing it could be your last game. But I've had a great time playing baseball my whole life,and I wouldn't want to play for any other team."
A better start to Thursday's elimination game would help the Bulldogs (24-33). They fell behind 6-1 to Elon on Tuesday before rallying for a 10-7 victory just to get into the double-elimination part of the tournament.
On Wednesday, The Citadel trailed Davidson (29-17) by 4-1 after one inning and 7-1 after five.
The Bulldogs rallied to get the bases loaded with two outs in the eighth, down 9-6 with slugger Bo Thompson at the plate. But Thompson, swinging at a 3-1 fastball, skied it high to left field for the third out.
"I got the fastball I wanted," said Thompson, who has hit eight home runs this year. "It might have been a ball, but I saw it was up in the zone and tried to attack it. I tried to get on top of it, but I felt I could not take that pitch."
In the ninth, the Bulldogs scratched out a run on a single and two errors to make it 9-7, then loaded the bases again with two out for Calvin Orth, who drove in three runs against Elon. This time, Wildcats closer Michael Goldberg struck out Orth swinging to end the game.
"Our guys are going to play until the 27th out," said Citadel coach Fred Jordan. "There's no panic in the dugout. We told them, let's just do it the hard way. I don't think anyone has ever won this tournament by winning six games, and we've got that opportunity starting tomorrow at 1 o'clock."
Davidson, which set a school record for victories this season as it prepares to leave the SoCon for the Atlantic 10, got three runs batted-in from Sam Foy and two from Lee Miller, including a home run during the Wildcats' four-run first. Pitcher Danny Mooney (6-3) allowed three earned runs over seven innings as Davidson won its first tourney game since 2004 and beat The Citadel in the tournament for the first time ever, snapping an 0-7 skid against the Bulldogs. The Wildcats will face the Samford/Wofford winner today.
The game featured 21 hits and eight errors, five by Davidson. The Wildcats went 1 for 2 on double-steal attempts, scoring a run on the first and running into a 2-6-3-5 double play on the second.
But that wasn't the strangest play. In the eighth, the Bulldogs stole three bases on one play, with DeKerlegand stealing third and home. After DeKerlegand was hit by a pitch and Johnathan Stokes singled, Wildcats catcher Daniel Gerow went out to the mound. As the infielders gathered around pitcher Mooney, DeKerlegand took off for second, rounded third and scored before the Wildcats knew what had happened. Stokes stole second on the play.
"I never saw the umpire throw up his hands (to call time)," DeKerlegand said. "I kept shuffling off the base, and I took off for third and no one noticed me, so I took off for home."
That heads-up play and Mason Davis' RBI single got the Bulldogs to within 9-6 before Thompson's bases-loaded flyball ended the threat.
The Bulldogs will likely pitch either Austin Livingston or Kevin Connell on Thursday.
"We'll play with energy," Jordan said, "and I'm confident we'll play well."