Phillip Ervin led a 16-hit attack, falling a double shy of the cycle, as defending Southern Conference tournament champion Samford avoided a series sweep with a 14-8 victory over The Citadel on Sunday at Riley Park.
The Citadel (10-6, 2-1 SoCon) saw its five-game winning streak come to an end but still earned its first series win over Samford (10-7, 1-2) since 2009, the year the Alabama-based Bulldogs joined the conference. The 14 runs were the most scored against The Citadel since an 18-5 loss at Elon last May 17.
Ervin, chosen the preseason favorite for SoCon Player of the Year honors, slammed a three-run homer to left center in the first, tripled in the second and singled in the fifth. He also drew two walks (one intentionally) scored four runs and drove in four.
The Citadel had 15 hits of its own to give the teams a combined 31 in the contest.Hughston Armstrong had a career-high four hits while Joe Jackson had a two-run double among his three hits and drove in three runs. Armstrong's previous career high was three hits against Kansas State earlier this season.
Tommy Corbin and Caleb Bryson joined Ervin with three hits for Samford. Sean Handlan was a settling force on the mound for the visiting Bulldogs, allowing only two hits and striking out five over the final three shutout innings to earn his first win of the season.
Austin Mason had his first rough start of his freshman season, allowing eight hits and six earned runs in three innings. Mason entered the game ranked 13th in the SoCon with a 2.79 ERA.
Samford built a 5-1 lead after three innings despite the Bulldogs getting four hits, drawing three walks and having a hit batter over that span. The Citadel left the bases loaded in the first and second and seven over the first three frames.
Samford appeared on its way to a blowout win when it scored four times in the fourth to open up a 9-1 lead. Corbin doubled in a run, Bryson had an RBI single and Samford also scored on a hit batter with the bases loaded and a sacrifice fly.
The Citadel bounced right back in its half of the frame, scoring four times including a two-run single by Tyler Griffin that pulled the Bulldogs within 9-5. But Samford answered with another big inning in the fifth, scoring four runs on four hits and taking advantage of three Citadel errors. The uprising all took place after the first two Samford batters were retired.
Jackson doubled in a pair of runs in the fifth, and freshman Bret Hines had his first career RBI with a sacrifice fly in the sixth before Handler shut the door. Samford added a final run in the seventh on a solo homer by Christiaan Durdaller, the only run allowed by Logan Cribb in four innings of relief. The southpaw fanned four in his longest outing of the season.
The Bulldogs are back in action Tuesday and Wednesday night with a two-game series against Akron at Riley Park. Both games begin at 6 p.m. SoCon play resumes on Friday with the opening game of a three-game set at Wofford.