Sears, Windham power Bulldogs past Eagles

Clemson and South Carolina will play a three-game series this weekend beginning Friday at Clemson. The Gamecocks swept the series last season. (AP Photo/Anderson Independent-Mail, Mark Crammer)

STATESBORO, Ga. — JP Sears tossed five innings of three-hit shutout ball in his first collegiate start and was backed by Stephen Windham’s first career home run as The Citadel posted a 3-2 win over Georgia Southern on Tuesday.

Skylar Hunter closed out the Eagles (5-3) for his 31st career save to enable the Bulldogs to snap a four-game skid. The former Southern Conference rivals meet again on March 17 at Riley Park.

After four relief appearances to start his Citadel career, Sears earned the start against the 2014 SoCon Tournament champions and stymied the Eagles, needing only 69 pitches to complete his five innings. He did not walk a batter and struck out five to improve to 2-1 on the year.

The left-hander retired the first six batters before allowing four base runners in the third. He helped his own cause when he picked off Dalton Busby at first and then struck out Aaron Mizell to leave the bases loaded.

Sears gave up one more single in the fourth and set down Georgia Southern in order in the fifth, ending his day by striking out Kody Adams.

Meanwhile, The Citadel scored three times in the first three innings off Josh Slate, who was also making his first career start for the Eagles. William Kinney doubled for his first collegiate hit and eventually scored on a bases loaded walk to Jason Smith in the second.

An inning later, Windham followed a walk to Johnathan Stokes with a home run over the fence in left center to make it 3-0. Windham had two of The Citadel’s six hits and scored two runs.

In addition to Kinney, Jacob Watcher also came up with his first hit as a Bulldog on a ninth inning single.

Zach Sherrill followed Sears on the mound and worked a 1-2-3 sixth before Georgia Southern broke through against Zach Lavery and Ross White in the seventh, scoring its first run on an error and a second on a fielder’s choice grounder that Philip Watcher made a nice play on up the middle but just missed forcing Ryan Cleveland.

Hunter had to escape trouble of his own in the eighth. A one-out error put Chase Griffin on first as the tie run, but the Bulldog closer picked him off to clear the bases. Hunter then walked Hunter Thomas, but a ground ball off the bat of Spencer Duffie hit Thomas as he attempted to advance, ending the threat.

Hunter then worked an easy ninth including his second strikeout to secure The Citadel victory.

Clemson’s baseball game against Wofford and South Carolina’s game vs. Davidson, both scheduled for Tuesday, have been postponed because of winter weather.

The Clemson-Wofford game has been rescheduled for 2 p.m. Wednesday at Clemson’s Doug Kingsmore Stadium. The USC-Davidson game has not be rescheduled.

The Gamecocks and Tigers begin a three-game series Friday with a 6:30 p.m. game at Clemson. On Saturday, the teams play at Fluor Field in Greenville at 2:30 p.m. The third game is Sunday at Carolina Stadium in Columbia at noon.

College of Charleston has added a home game against St. John’s on Wednesday at Patriots Point with first pitch slated for 4 p.m.

Admission will be free to the public.

Charleston Southern’s game scheduled for Wednesday against Furman was rescheduled for April 22 at 6 p.m. at CSU Ballpark.

CSU (4-2) will host St. John’s and North Florida this weekend at CSU Ballpark. The Bucs face St. John’s on Friday at 6 p.m. and UNF on Saturday and Sunday at 6:30 p.m. and 1 p.m., respectively.