Drew DeKerlegand and Hughston Armstrong provided the offensive spark, and The Citadel bullpen pitched out of bases loaded jams in the final inning of both games to lead the Bulldogs to a 7-5 and 5-3 doubleheader sweep of UNC Asheville Sunday at Riley Park.
The Citadel won three of four games over the weekend at the Charleston Crab House Shootout presented by Homewood Suites to improve to 7-5 on the season. The second game was the makeup of a game rained out earlier this week against UNC Asheville, which dropped to 4-7 with the two losses.
In the opener, DeKerlegand had two singles, a double and a triple, scoring three runs and driving in three, falling a home run short of the first cycle by a Citadel player since Dallas McPherson in 2000. DeKerlegand's RBI single in the sixth snapped a 4-4 tie and was followed by a squeeze bunt by Johnathan Stokes and sacrifice fly by Calvin Orth that made it 7-4.
UNC Asheville scored a run in the ninth off reliever Zach Sherrill and had the bases full when Skylar Hunter came in to get a pop up and a strikeout of Robert McIntosh to secure his second save of the season.
Austin Mason had his third straight solid start of his freshman season and was rewarded with a victory after picking up no-decisions in his first two appearances. Mason worked the first seven innings, allowing six hits and four runs (three earned) with one walk and five strikeouts.
He surrendered a wind-aided three-run homer to Billy Creighton in the fourth. An inning later he gave up one run but escaped a two on, nobody out situation by getting a double play grounder to keep it a 4-4 game.
Tyler Griffin added two hits and scored three times and had back-to-back doubles with DeKerlegand as part of a two-run second to give The Citadel the early lead. After the Creighton homer, Griffin and DeKerlegand had consecutive triples, and Stokes grounded out to third to drive in another run and give the Bulldogs a 4-3 advantage.
In the nightcap, The Citadel used three extra base hits to score twice in the fourth to break a 3-3 tie. Bailey Rush doubled to right and Armstrong followed with a triple into the alley in right center, giving the Bulldogs the lead for good. Mason Davis pulled a double just inside the bag at first to score Armstrong and make it a two-run game.
Griffin saved a potential big inning for UNC Asheville in the fifth when he made a running catch heading to the wall in right with a runner at second. David Riveracame on and retired five in a row before running into trouble in the seventh and final inning.
Rivera gave up two singles and a walk around a pair of strikeouts to load the bases with two outs. He then finished off the win by inducing Hunter Bryant to fly out harmlessly to right for his first save.
The Citadel fell behind 3-0 after 2 ½ innings, but Armstrong and Davis singled to start the bottom of the third, moved up one base on a bunt by Stokes and both scored on a single by Joe Jackson. Griffin followed with a double to plate Jackson and tie the game at 3.
Jackson and Griffin both have 16 RBI on the season to lead the Bulldogs in that category.
Logan Cribb was victimized by an error and passed ball, leading to two unearned runs and the early UNC Asheville lead. Cribb went the first four innings and allowed only three hits while fanning four to gain credit for the win, evening his record at 1-1.
The Bulldogs head to Rock Hill on Tuesday for a rematch with Winthrop and will be looking for the season sweep after defeating the Eagles 6-4 on Feb. 20 in Charleston. The Southern Conference season gets underway for The Citadel next Friday through Sunday when Samford visits Riley Park.