The Citadel pitching staff completed a dominating three-game performance at Georgia Southern behind the best start of the season by freshman Austin Mason in an 8-2 win over the Eagles on a rainy Sunday in Statesboro.
The sweep was the first by the Bulldogs on the road since taking three at Georgia Southern in 2010 and improved their record to 20-17 and 9-6 in the Southern Conference. The Citadel finished the weekend tied with Elon (12-6), Western Carolina (12-6) and College of Charleston (11-6) for the fewest losses in the league.
Mason turned in the longest performance of his young career and the longest for a Citadel pitcher this season, going eight innings and allowing five hits and two unearned runs with no walks and five strikeouts. He was working on The Citadel's third straight shutout until Georgia Southern took advantage of a two-out error to score an unearned run in the seventh.
Prior to that run, the Bulldog staff had blanked the Eagles through the first 26 1/3 innings of the series, the longest such stretch since The Citadel shut out Wofford twice and Lafayette in March 2003 for a string of at least 27 straight shutout innings.
Including an 11-0 win on Friday and a 1-0 victory in 11 innings on Saturday, the Bulldogs allowed the fewest runs in a SoCon series since giving up just one in a sweep of Marshall in 1995. Georgia Southern managed only 13 hits and one extra base hit the entire weekend while losing all three games at home in a series for the first time since that Citadel sweep three years ago.
Calvin Orth led the offensive attack on Sunday, blasting his third home run of the series and driving in three to give him eight RBI over the weekend. The junior first baseman entered the series with just three home runs in his career but had two including a grand slam on Friday and added a solo shot in the sixth on Sunday to give the Bulldogs a 5-0 lead.
Orth also had a two-run single to cap a three-run uprising with two outs in the third that gave The Citadel a four-run margin. Jonathan Stokes drove in two runs with a bases loaded walk and a sacrifice fly, giving him RBI in seven of his last eight games and a total of 11 during the run. Joe Jackson extended his hitting streak to nine, including a solo homer in the ninth, his sixth of the season.
After a 32-minute rain delay before the start of the game, the Bulldogs wasted little time jumping on Georgia Southern starter Jason Richman. Mason Davis singled to start the game, was sacrificed to second and scored on a base hit by Bo Thompson, his 36th straight game reaching base by a hit, walk or hit by pitch.
Mason, meanwhile, cruised through the first six innings, allowing only one Eagle to reach scoring position. He allowed a two-out single in the first before retiring the next seven batters. Ben Morgan got the second Georgia Southern hit to lead off the fourth, but Mason got Chase Griffin to hit a double play grounder to short.
The biggest Georgia Southern threat came in the fifth when Arthur Owens was hit by a pitch and Michael McClellan singled with one out. But two groundouts ended that threat and Mason induced three grounders to short in the sixth before the Eagles finally scored their first run of the series an inning later.
James Reeves relieved Mason in the ninth and retired the side in order to complete the sweep.
The Bulldogs return home for four games next week beginning with a non-conference contest against East Tennessee State on Wednesday at 4 p.m. The Buccaneers are coached by Tony Skole, a member of The Citadel's 1990 College World Series team and an inductee into the school's athletic hall of fame.
The Citadel's next SoCon series begins Friday at 6 p.m. when Appalachian State visits Riley Park.