Saturday, May 26, 2007

Wofford wins 6-2 over The Citadel


Charleston, S.C.No. 9 Wofford defeated seventh-seeded The Citadel, 6-2, in their very first meeting in tournament history Friday afternoon in the third round of the Southern Conference Tournament at Riley Park. Eric Sturkie’s solo home run in the second proved to be the game-winner as he paced the Terriers with two RBI on the day. The Bulldogs will play the winner of the Elon-UNC Greensboro game Friday night to figure out who they will face Saturday, May 26 at noon at Riley Park.

The Bulldogs’ only runs were scored by two homers as junior left fielder Chris Swauger and freshman catcher Richard Jones each belted a round-tripper in the contest. Unfortunately it was not enough for the Dogs even though they matched Wofford’s 11 hits.

Swauger, Jones and senior first baseman Zach Brown each collected two hits on the day. Brown ripped his 21st double of the season, tying him for fifth place in single-season two-baggers, along with Swauger who hit that mark in 2006. Brown is also tied for fifth in all-time doubles with 52.

Freshman lefty Nick Sprowls (0-2) suffered the loss in only his second career start as the went 1.2 frames, allowing three runs on five hits while striking out and walking one. Terrier starter Ben Austin (11-5) earned his second win of the tourney after taking a 5-3 victory over Furman in the first game of the single-elimination round. Austin tossed 5.2 innings as he was responsible for both homers and surrendered eight hits while fanning two and walking one.

The Citadel jumped out to a 1-0 lead in the first with Swauger’s solo shot over the right field wall. Wofford did not stay behind long as the Terriers answered back with two of their own. Michael Gilmartin punched a single through the left side to start things off and moved to second on a sac bunt. Shane Kirkley then tripled to the gap in right center to plate Gilmartin. Brandon Waring followed that up with a base hit to left to drive in Kirkley and give Wofford a 2-1 advantage.

Sturkie added to the Terrier lead in the second as he registered a solo job just inside the right field foul pole. Freshman catcher Richard Jones pulled the Bulldogs back within one in the fourth as he went deep for the third time in four games to make it 3-2. Jones now has 15 round-trippers on the season to lead the club.

A Bulldog error in the fifth led to three unearned runs to put Wofford up by four. Adam Wood notched an infield single with one out before Sterling Dye bunted one back to the mound that was mishandled, allowing Dye to reach safely while putting Wood on second. Keith Munns drew a walk to load the bases for Sturkie who lifted a sac fly to right to drive in Wood. Gilmartin notched a double to push Dye across the dish. Munns then raced home on a wild pitch before Bulldog hurler Link Saunders forced a groundout to get out of the inning.

The Citadel put three runners in scoring position over the final four frames, but was unable to push any across. The Dogs even threatened in the ninth with two outs as they put runners on first and second, but Terrier closer Charles Vartanian caught the final batter looking to preserve the 6-2 win and pick up the save. Vartanian closed out the final 3.1 frames and held the Dogs to only three hits while not giving up any runs and striking out five.

Saunders posted another solid outing after recording a save in each of the last two Citadel victories. The right-hander relieved Justin Smith in the fifth and held the Terriers scoreless and only allowed one hit while fanning three and walking one. Smith registered four strikeouts of his own, also in three innings of work.

No. 7 The Citadel will return to tournament action on Saturday, May 26 at noon and will either have a rematch with No. 3 Elon or will face No. 5 UNC Greensboro.

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