Friday, March 16, 2007

Eastern Illinois Visits Riley for a Three-Game Set This Weekend


Charleston, S.C. – The Citadel baseball will play host Eastern Illinois this Friday-Sunday, March 16-18, at Riley Park. Game one is slated for 6 p.m. while Saturday will begin at 2 p.m. and game three is set for a 1 p.m. tilt. The Bulldogs are coming off an 8-7 victory over Savannah State, while the Panthers defeated College of Charleston, 7-5, at Patriot’s Point on Wednesday.

Last Time Out: The Bulldogs clinched their seventh straight series last weekend, taking two of three from visiting Columbia. The Dogs rallied for their seventh come-from-behind victory on Tuesday after trailing 6-0 to Savannah State. Sophomore Sonny Meade and senior first baseman Zach Brown led the comeback as they registered back-to-back home runs to tie it up in the fifth. Freshman southpaw Chris McGuiness earned his first collegiate victory as he shutdown the Tiger offense in relief, allowing the Dogs to post the 8-7 win.

The Citadel versus Eastern Illinois: Eastern Illinois will mark the fourth team that The Citadel will face for their first-ever meeting this season. The Dogs also played Minnesota, UNC Asheville and Columbia for the first time, as the series with the Panthers marks the second straight weekend the Bulldogs will host a newcomer to Riley Park.

The Citadel has only faced two other members of the Ohio Valley Conference. The Bulldogs hold a 2-2 all-time record against the Ohio Valley, splitting games with Austin Peay and Tennessee Tech. The last time the Dogs squared-off against an OVC opponent was when they defeated Tennessee Tech, 13-3, in 1997, The Citadel’s first season at Riley Park.

Scouting the Panthers: The Panthers are currently 4-7 and are coming up a 7-5 upset over #30 College of Charleston. The Cougars were the second top-30 team that Eastern Illinois defeated this season as they beat Evansville when they held the #25 spot, 8-6. The Panthers have a 3-4 record on the road so far this season.

Leading the Panther offense is led by freshman Richie Derbak as he boasts a .350 batting average and is second in hits (14) and RBI (8). Senior Erik Huber paces the squad in home runs with a two on the season, and has the most RBI (10) and runs scored (10). Collectively, the Panthers are batting .266, while opponents are batting .309 against them.

Probable Starters: The Bulldogs will send sophomore right-hander Wes Wrenn (2-1, 4.48 ERA) to the hill on Friday. Wrenn is coming off a rocky outing as he suffered his first loss of the season. The sophomore was relieved after 3.2 innings as he allowed eight earned runs on 10 hits while striking out and walking one. The Panthers will counter with junior right-hander Alex Guttosch (0-1, 3.18 ERA) as he tossed 7.0 innings in his last start against Belmont on March 11. Guttosch did not factor into the 3-2 loss as he only allowed two runs on six hits while striking out four.

The Citadel will throw sophomore left-hander Matt Crim on Saturday (1-2, 4.40 ERA) who picked up his first win of the year in a 2-1 victory over Columbia last week. Crim went 7.0 innings, holding the Lions to one run on seven hits while fanning three. Eastern Illinois will look to freshman lefty Tyler Kehrer (2-0, 2.62 ERA) who lead the club in earned run average and has yet to suffer a loss this year. Kehrer earned a 4-3 victory over Belmont last week as he threw 5.1 frames and only gave up one unearned run on two hits while striking out eight and walking three.

Sunday’s starters are still to be determined for each team.

Freshman McGuiness Registers First Collegiate Win: Freshman lefty Chris McGuiness earned his first collegiate victory on March 13, only two days after smashing his first collegiate home run. McGuiness took to the mound against Savannah State in the fifth inning and shutdown the Tiger offense, allowing The Citadel to post an 8-7 come-from-behind win. The Charleston, S.C. native tossed 3.2 scoreless frames, allowing only two hits while striking out two. McGuiness also belted a solo shot, which proved to be the game-winner in a 2-1 victory over Columbia on March 11.

Bulldogs go Back-to-Back: Trailing 6-1 in the fourth inning on March 13 against Savannah State, sophomore Sonny Meade and senior Zach Brown belted back-to-back home runs to even it up at six in the fifth. Meade blasted a three-run shot over the fence in left center before Brown stepped in and stroked a solo round-tripper to right. The last time the Bulldogs enjoyed back-to-back jacks was against Furman on May 14, 2005 by Matt Matulia and Josh Stackley.

Saunders Notches Fourth Save: Senior closer Link Saunders registered his fourth save of the year against Savannah State on Tuesday. The righty tossed 1.1 frames, allowing one unearned run on one hit. Saunders is 2-1 with four saves and a 1.35 ERA on the season in 13.1 innings of work, while striking out 14. The Irmo, S.C. native is currently tied for second in the Southern Conference in saves and hold the fourth spot all-time in career stops at The Citadel.

Jones Enjoys Career-Long Hitting Streak: After batting .200 over his first nine appearances, freshman Richard Jones has enjoyed a .357 batting average in the last four games and is currently in the midst of a five-game hitting streak.

The Citadel’s ERA Tops in the League: The Citadel currently leads the Southern Conference with a team earned run average of 3.52. Wofford is second with a team ERA of 3.81.

Thanks to Melanie Long of The Citadel for keeping us informed about the Bulldogs all season long.

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