COLUMBIA -- Citadel pitcher Matt Talley was not at his best Friday against Virginia Tech. But the Bulldogs' 6-6 left-hander was plenty good enough in a 7-2 victory over the Hokies in the NCAA regionals.
"Matt was very good," said Bulldogs coach Fred Jordan. "But I've seen him better. He pitched extremely tough today. In the fifth, sixth and seventh innings, he did not have his good breaking ball. But he pitched inside and really showed a lot of toughness today."
Talley (8-3) went seven innings and stranded four runners on base in the fourth and fifth innings. He struck out only three batters, but didn't walk any. Virginia Tech hit some balls hard, but only Sean Ryan's two-run home run in the seventh did any damage, and it was 7-0 by then.
Hokie hitters had 13 fly ball outs, eight to the deepest part of Carolina Stadium in center field.
"Matt was a little up in the zone," Jordan said. "He did not have good command of his change-up or his curveball. But he pitched both sides of the plate extremely well, and that was the reason for all of the fly balls."
Talley said a 4-0 lead in the second inning was a big help.
"I was able to settle in a little bit and concentrate on throwing strikes," he said. "I didn't really have to try to shut them out."
Virginia Tech catcher Steve Domecus blasted a ball off the wall in left to open the fourth inning against The Citadel, but only made it to first base, even though the Bulldogs booted the ball around in the outfield.
The problem -- Domecus missed the bag making his turn around first, and had to go back to the base.
"I took a look up at the ball right before I made it to first base," Domecus said. "I missed first base and had to go back and touch it. I think the umpire and first baseman saw it, so it would have been an out if I had not gone back."
The mistake cost the Hokies a run, as Austin Wates followed with what would have been an RBI single.
"A lead-off double there would have been great to get things going," Domecus said. "A runner in scoring position with nobody out. But I missed the bag and didn't get it done.'
-- The Citadel's win over 16th-ranked Virginia Tech was its first win over a ranked team this season. The Bulldogs had been 0-7 against ranked teams Kansas State, VMI, Coastal Carolina and South Carolina.
-- The win over Virginia Tech also marked The Citadel's first victory in NCAA regional play since a 10-1 win over Coastal Carolina in a losers' bracket game in 2004 in Columbia. The Bulldogs were eliminated the next day by North Carolina, 6-3.
-- The Bulldogs tried to crank up their running game against the Hokies, but were 0 for 3 on stolen bases as Domecus threw out Brad Felder, Bryan Altman and Grant Richards. Virginia Tech led the ACC in runners caught stealing this season.
(bullet) Citadel first baseman Justin Mackert had a tough day with the glove. In the second inning, he lost a pop-up in the sun in foul ground, giving new life to the Hokies' Tony Balisteri, who cashed in with a single. And in the fifth, Mackert dropped Steve Domecus' pop-up in foul territory for an error. But shortstop Kyle Jordan's handled Domecus' short-hop smash to get out of the inning.
Gamecocks coach Ray Tanner wasn’t kidding when he talked earlier in the week about lineup changes. He mixed things around significantly Friday against Bucknell, after his team’s skid got it down to .299 for the year.
Freshman Evan Marzilli, just eight starts and 48 at-bats this season, hit leadoff for the first time since the season-opening series. Whit Merrifield had hit first in 57 of 58 games coming in.
Marzilli played right, with Merrifield moving to third base. Adrian Morales had started at third in 20 of the past 21 games, but he shifted to second. That left strong defender Scott Wingo out of the lineup, even though he’d started 36 of the past 37 games. Wingo is in a 2-for-17 funk. Morales, though, is in a 2-for-20 skid.
Brady Thomas replaced Kyle Enders (1-for-15 slump) at catcher. Additionally, Jackie Bradley Jr. moved to the 3 hole for the first time in 34 games. Bradley had an 11-game hit streak coming in, batting .468 in the tear.