Thursday, May 24, 2007

Citadel Downs Western Carolina in SoCon First Round


Charleston, S.C. – Seventh-seeded The Citadel knocked off No. 2 Western Carolina, 7-2, in the first round of double-elimination play in the Southern Conference Tournament Tuesday night at Riley Park. Sophomore hurler Matt Crim tossed seven innings of shutout ball and tied a career-best eight strikeouts while freshman catcher Richard Jones belted his third home run in as many games.

The Bulldogs held the Catamounts scoreless all the way until two outs in the bottom of the ninth when Blake Murphy drew a bases loaded walk. Senior hurler Link Saunders came in to record the final out and pick up his sixth save of the year as he caught Kenny Smith looking to end the game.

Jones put the Bulldogs on the board first for the second consecutive night with a solo shot to right in the second inning. Jones has homered in the last three games, belting a round-tripper in his first at bat in the last two. Junior third baseman Matt Arnold was able to race home from third on a passed ball to give the Dogs a 2-0 advantage.

The Citadel struck again in the fourth as senior center fielder Chance Smith ripped a run-scoring double to the gap in left center. Junior left fielder Chris Swauger followed that up with a base hit up the middle to make it 4-0 Bulldogs.

Swauger earned his second RBI of the evening with a solo bomb off the batter’s eye in the ninth before sophomore Sonny Meade was awarded a free pass. Brown followed that up with a two-bagger off the top of the wall in right to plate freshman Matt Simonelli, who entered the game as a pinch-runner for Meade. Jones then sent Brown across the dish with a single to right, extending The Citadel lead to seven.

After holding opponents to 22 consecutive scoreless innings, the Bulldogs surrendered two bases-loaded walks with two outs in the ninth.

Crim (7-3) earned the victory for the Dogs as he tossed 7.0 scoreless innings, allowing only two hits while fanning eight and walking four. Western starter Tyler Sexton (8-3) suffered the loss as he lasted 3.2 frames, allowing four runs (three earned) on eight hits while striking out two and walking one.

Swauger, Jones and Arnold each collected three-hits on the night as Arnold extended his career-best hitting streak to 13 games. Nick Liles lead the Catamount offense with three hits of his own, including a triple.

No. 7 The Citadel will now face No. 3 Elon in game 10 of the SoCon Tournament on Thursday, May 24 at 7:30 p.m. at Riley Park. The Bulldogs were 1-2 versus the Phoenix during the regular season when they visited Riley Park. The Dogs are 2-1 when facing Elon in the SoCon Tournament. The last time the two met in the tourney was in 2006 when The Citadel eliminated top-ranked Elon with a 14-11 victory.

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