MOUNT PLEASANT -- Although The Citadel entered this weekend's series against the College of Charleston holding the top spot in the Southern Conference baseball standings, things weren't looking too good for the Bulldogs after Charleston swept the first two games and had a two-run lead going into the final two innings of Sunday's contest.
But senior second baseman Bryan Altman delivered a three-run double to cap a five-run eighth inning as The Citadel rolled to a 6-3 win Sunday at Patriots Point Field.
The victory lifted The Citadel to 18-6 in the SoCon (30-19 overall), and the Bulldogs have Southern Conference series remaining at home against UNC Greensboro and at Georgia Southern before the league's tournament May 26-30.
Charleston, which has only one more league series remaining at Appalachian State next weekend, fell to 19-8 (35-13).
Freshman Michael Clevinger (4-2), in relief of Austin Pritcher, picked up the victory, yielding only two hits over the final three innings. Charleston's David Peterson (7-3) went 7 1/3 innings and was charged with the loss.
"We were very resilient. We had a tough weekend. We couldn't catch a break," said Citadel coach Fred Jordan.
With a 3-1 lead going into the eighth, the Cougars seemed to be headed for a sweep. But William Ladd led off with a single and advanced to third on a two-base throwing error. Nick Orvin beat out an infield single to put runners on the corners, and Peterson hit Brad Felder with a pitch to load the bases.
That's when Altman launched a double to the wall in right center to clear the bases and put the Bulldogs ahead 4-3.
The Bulldogs added a couple of insurance runs to round out a very productive eighth inning, and Clevinger retired the Cougars in order in their final two at-bats.
"That's who we are. We never gave in after two tough losses. We're not the type of team to roll over and give a game away," said Altman, who added that Jordan had told his squad they could be the type of team that packs it in and goes into the tournament without any momentum.
"We didn't roll over. We kept going. That's who we are," Altman said. "It was disappointing (the first two losses to the Cougars). We took it hard, losing to a rival and also knowing we're in contention for a title. At the same time, we knew we could come out and turn it around. It still gives us the opportunity to win the regular season."
Cougars coach Monte Lee said getting so close to the win and then losing stings.
"You fight so hard to put yourself in position to win a ballgame and then things don't work out," Lee said. "I'm disappointed in not winning today. It just didn't work out for us. They scored five runs. You've got to give their kids credit. Pritcher threw a great ballgame. Clevinger came in in relief and did an outstanding job. And Altman steps up. He's a senior who's been one of their best players over the last couple of years. When they needed him the most, he delivered for them with that big double."
Jordan said if you're only going to win one game during a weekend series, you'd like it to be Sunday.
"It carries over to Tuesday and Wednesday and hopefully into the next weekend," Jordan said. "We're just glad to be back home. We've been on the road it seems like for a month in league play.
"We're not playing as well as we did earlier in the year. Every team struggles a little bit, and we've been struggling. Maybe this will get us going in the right direction."