Calvin Orth clubbed the first pitch of the bottom of the seventh over the fence in left to spark a four-run inning, breaking a 2-2 tie and sending The Citadel on its way to a 6-3 victory over Appalachian State in the opening game of a Southern Conference series at Riley Park.
The Bulldogs (22-17, 10-6 SoCon) equaled their season-high winning streak of five while taking their fourth in a row in conference play. Appalachian State lost for only the third time in its past nine SoCon games and is 21-13 overall and 10-8 in the conference. The Bulldogs have won eight in a row over the Mountaineers at Riley Park.
The series continues Saturday at 3 p.m., an hour later than the originally scheduled time, and wraps up Sunday at 1 p.m.
Orth put The Citadel ahead to stay when he hit his sixth home run of the season and fourth in the past four conference games off Mountaineer starter Jamie Nunn. Before the inning was over the Bulldogs would add five more hits and three two-out runs to take a 6-2 lead.
Bret Hines singled with one out and Mason Davis and Hughston Armstrong had consecutive RBI doubles with two down to give The Citadel a 5-2 lead. Armstrong moved to third on a single by Joe Jackson and scored when Bo Thompson dropped a run-scoring single into shallow right field to cap the frame.
Orth hit three home runs last weekend against Georgia Southern and continued his power surge on Friday. Prior to the series against the Eagles, the Bulldog junior first baseman had hit only three round trippers in his career. Davis extended his hitting streak to nine, two shy of his career high, while Thompson ran his streak of consecutive games reaching base to 38.
The game featured a matchup of two of the top starting pitchers in the league, and it lived up to that billing through six innings. Senior right hander Austin Pritcher blanked the Mountaineers for the first four innings while The Citadel scored single runs in the first and fourth to take an early 2-0 lead.
Davis walked to start the game and raced all the way to third on a bunt single by Armstrong. With one out Armstrong was thrown out trying to steal but Davis was able to cross the plate for the first run of the game. Drew DeKerlegand walked, stole second and scored on a wild pitch and passed ball in the fourth for a two-run Citadel margin.
Pritcher allowed leadoff singles in the first two innings but got double plays in each frame to avoid any serious danger. Appalachian State added another hit in the third before Pritcher worked a 1-2-3 fourth.
The Mountaineers broke through in the fifth on RBI singles by John Kincaid and Hector Crespo to even the game at 2. The hit was the second of the game and season for Kincaid, who was playing in only his sixth game and making his first start of the year.
The tallies ended a string of consecutive innings without giving up an earned run in SoCon play for the Bulldog pitching staff at 39 1/3 dating back to the series finale against Elon on April 7. The Phoenix failed to score in the final 5 2/3 innings of that game before The Citadel allowed just two unearned runs in 29 innings in a sweep at Georgia Southern last weekend.
Pritcher, who entered the game ranked third in the conference with an ERA of 2.75, allowed a two-out double in the sixth and a triple with two down in the seventh before being replaced by Zach Sherrill, who got Crespo to fly out to left. Sherrill was credited with the win when the Bulldogs broke the tie in the bottom of the seventh.
Pritcher allowed a total of seven hits, walked one and struck out two in 6 2/3 innings in taking a no-decision. Nunn took the loss for the Mountaineers and fell to 7-3 on the year. The sophomore right hander leads the SoCon in wins and began the weekend sixth in the SoCon with a 2.92 ERA.
Reeves issued consecutive walks with one out in the ninth. Hunter started shaky, giving up a single to Crespo for his third hit of the day and then walking pinch hitter Michael Pierson to put the tie run on base and bring up the number three and four hitters in the Mountaineer order.
But Hunter settled down and retired Jaylin Davis on a foul out to Orth and Will Callaway on a grounder to third to wiggle out of the threat.