Sunday, May 27, 2007

Wofford wins Southern Conference Title


Charleston, S.C. Seventh-seeded The Citadel fell to No. 9 Wofford, 4-2, in the Southern Conference Championship Saturday night at Riley Park. The Bulldogs made it to the championship round for the second straight season, while the Terriers earned their first ever tournament crown.

The Bulldogs and Terriers both battled their way from the single-elimination round on Tuesday to make it to the championship game. The Dogs defeated Davidson, Western Carolina and Elon before falling to Wofford in game 13, 6-2. The Citadel returned to down Elon for the second time to challenge the Terriers for the tournament title, but Wofford remained undefeated as they were the lowest seed to ever win the crown in tourney history.

A pitchers’ duel developed in the first three innings as Bulldog hurler Matt Reifsnider only allowed two hits and retired seven straight from the end of the first through the end of the third. Terrier starter Austin Redwine did not allow a hit until the fourth inning when junior left fielder Chris Swauger belted a solo shot over the right field wall to give the Bulldogs a 1-0 lead.

The Citadel put two runners on in the fifth, but Austin forced three straight outs to get out of the frame. Wofford then took the lead in the sixth courtesy of a two-run shot off the bat of Brandon Waring. Waring, who was named the Tournament Most Valuable Player, set SoCon Tournament records in home runs (5), RBI (16), hits (14) and total bases (31).

The Terriers extended their lead to three in the seventh as Keith Munns smacked a run-scoring double down the left field line. Wofford pitched its way out of another jam in the bottom of the frame as senior right fielder Joe Hoerter and freshman shortstop Kyle Jordan registered back-to-back singles with two outs. Terrier shortstop Mike Gilmartin was called to the mound and forced a groundout to get out of the inning unharmed.

Designated hitter Shane Kirkley sent a 3-2 offering over the fence in left to make it 4-1 Wofford in the eighth before sophomore left-hander Matt Crim came in and shutdown the Terrier offense the rest of the night.

The Bulldogs attempted to come back in the ninth as sophomore right fielder Sonny Meade came in to pinch hit and ripped a line drive to left with one out. Freshman Chris McGuiness was then able to reach safely when John Brandt dropped a ball down the left field line. Sophomore Conrad Kellahan, the third Bulldog pinch-hitter of the inning, punched a base hit through the right side to load the bases with one out. Gilmartin registered a strikeout before Swauger drew a bases loaded walk and notched his second RBI of the evening. Gilmartin then fanned his third batter of the frame to preserve the 4-2 victory and pick up his eighth save of the season.

Reifsnider (3-5) enjoyed his best career start as he tossed five innings of shutout ball, scattering eight hits and allowing three runs. The freshman collected five strikeouts and did not surrender a single walk in his 6.1 innings of work. Redwine (7-5) earned his second victory of the tournament as he threw 6.2 frames, giving up a single run on four hits while striking out four and walking two.

Freshman Raymond Copenhaver and senior Justin Smith tied the tournament record for most appearances with five as they were called to the mound against the Terriers. Crim matched the lowest ever earned run average over nine innings as he posted a 0.00 ERA and picked up a victory over his two outings and closed the final two frames.

The Bulldogs put together an outstanding run in the SoCon Tournament after finishing 12-15 and having to participate in the play-in game as the seven seed. The Citadel turned in clutch pitching performances as sophomores Wes Wrenn and Matt Crim combined to throw 13 shutout innings in the first two games to lead the Bulldogs to a 7-0 win over No. 10 Davidson and sent No. 2 Western Carolina to the loser’s bracket with a 7-2 victory. Senior closer Links Saunders registered back-to-back saves over the Catamounts and Elon as he posted a 0.00 ERA in three appearances while striking out seven. The Bulldog pitching staff combined for a 2.42 ERA over six games to lead all SoCon teams during the tourney.

Freshman second baseman Bryan Altman was the hero of the Dogs’ third tournament game as he crushed his first career grand slam to give The Citadel a 6-5 edge over No. 3 Elon. After falling to Wofford, the Dogs returned on Saturday to face Elon again where Wrenn earned his second tournament victory holding the Phoenix to only two runs during his seven innings of work, while Jones and Altman paced the Bulldog offense in the 5-2 win.

Senior Joe Hoerter led The Citadel at the plate as he batted .467 during the tournament after receiving his first career start less than a month ago. Hoerter turned in a .314 batting average to finish out his senior campaign.

Freshman of the Year Richard Jones and Swauger each belted three round-trippers during the tournament while Swauger tallied 24 total bases and seven RBI. Swauger and Meade both registered an average above .400 during the six-game span, while Jones and Brown batted .360 and .348, respectively.

The Citadel finished out the regular season with a 34-27 overall record and enjoyed two huge wins over nationally ranked foes. The Dogs had four players recognized as All-SoCon performers in 2007 as Brown was awarded first team accolades and Swauger, Jones and Meade were all named to the second team. Brown, Jones and Swauger also earned All-Tournament accolades as Swauger was tabbed All-Tournament for the second year in a row. Below is a complete list of the 2007 All-Tournament squad.

2007 All-Tournament Team

C – Richard Jones (The Citadel)

1B – Zach Brown (The Citadel)

2B – Eric Sturkie (Wofford)

SS – Mike Gilmartin (Wofford)

3B – Brandon Waring (Wofford)

OF – Pat Irvine (Elon)

OF – Sean Snell (UNC Greensboro)

OF – Chris Swauger (The Citadel)

DH – Andrew Franco (Appalachian State)

P – Ben Austin (Wofford)

MVP – Brandon Waring (Wofford)

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