Austin Pritcher and two relievers combined on a shutout, and Drew DeKerlegand jump started the offense with a first inning home run to lead The Citadel to an 8-0 victory over Pittsburgh in the opening day of the Charleston Crab House Shootout presented by Homewood Suites.
The Bulldogs snapped a three-game losing streak to go back over the .500 mark at 5-4. The Panthers, who swept perennial national power Wichita State en route to a 5-1 start, lost for the second time this season.
The game was the first in the regular season between the two teams and evened the all-time series at one apiece. Pittsburgh won the only other meeting in the 1995 NCAA Mideast Regional Tournament.
Pritcher battled through five innings, allowing five hits and three walks with four strikeouts to increase his consecutive innings streak without allowing an earned run at Riley Park to 37 1/3. Ryan Hines worked 2 1/3 innings of three-hit ball before Ross White went a perfect 1 2/3 innings to close it out.
DeKerlegand went 3-for-3 and scored three times, and Joe Jackson also had three hits to lead a 12-hit Citadel attack. DeKerlegand gave the Bulldogs the only run they would need in the first when his slicing drive smacked the top of the left field foul pole for his first home run of the season.
Pritcher (2-0) made the lead hold up as he worked out of several early jams. Pittsburgh stranded two men in both the first and second and had runners on second and third with one out in the fifth before Pritcher escaped by striking out Elvin Soto to leave the bases loaded.
In addition to his streak at Riley Park, the senior right hander has allowed only 12 earned runs in his past 10 starts covering 65 innings for an ERA of 1.66 over that span. Pritcher is the only starter in the Southern Conference who has not allowed a run so far in 2013.
It stayed a one-run game until The Citadel exploded for five runs in the fifth. Mason Davis, DeKerlegand and Jackson singled to lead off the frame, and Bo Thompson made it 2-0 with a sacrifice fly to left. Tyler Griffin snapped an 0-for-10 stretch since hitting his third home run of the game last Saturday at North Florida with a two-run single up the middle that doubled the Bulldogs' lead to 4-0.
Davis had two hits on the day and stole a base in the sixth to make him a perfect 7-for-7 on the year and the Bulldogs 12-for-12 as a team.
Ground outs by Jackson and Thompson in the eighth drove in the final two runs of the day for the Bulldogs, and White set the Panthers down in order in the ninth to secure The Citadel's first shutout since a 7-0 win over Furman last May 11 at Riley Park.
Day two of the tournament begins at noon on Saturday when UNC Asheville (3-5) takes on Pitt followed by The Citadel facing VCU at 4:00. VCU (6-0) opened Friday's action with a 12-1 victory over UNC Asheville.