James Reeves struck out 15 batters but an unusual play in the ninth gave Davidson a 2-1 win over The Citadel in the opening game of Saturday's doubleheader at Wilson Field.
Reeves tripled his previous career high of five strikeouts and posted the most in a game for a Bulldog since Asher Wojciechowski also had 15 against Elon on May 23, 2009. Reeves turned in the first double digit strikeout performance for a Citadel pitcher since Austin Pritcher had 13 against Appalachian State on March 4, 2011.
The junior lefthander had at least one strikeout in eight of the nine innings including five multiple whiff frames. He punched out three Wildcat batters in the sixth and seventh frames, and his 15th came when he struck out Nathan Becker to lead off the bottom of the ninth.
Standing at a career-high 99 pitches and well past his previous career-long six innings, Reeves was relieved by Skylar Hunter with one out in the ninth. Sam Foy doubled and advanced to third on a wild pitch, and the Bulldogs intentionally walked two batters to load the bases with two out.
Andrew Pope followed with a chopper to short, and Lee Miller was just able to beat Johnathan Stokes' toss to Mason Davis at second for the force as Foy crossed the plate with the winning run. The loss dropped Hunter to 1-2 while Danny Mooney earned the win for Davidson, tossing a complete game three-hitter with eight strikeouts.
Davidson took a 1-0 lead in the first on a two-out RBI triple by Forrest Brandt that just ticked off the glove of Hughston Armstrong in center, and Mooney retired the first 14 Bulldogs before Calvin Orth singled with two out in the fifth.
It was still a one-run Wildcat lead in the eighth when Orth singled and advanced all the way to third on a fielding error by Becker in right. Stokes followed with a sacrifice fly to even the game at 1. Davis singled with one out in the ninth but was called out when he overslid second on a stolen base attempt.
The Citadel rallied from an early 8-0 deficit and had the tying run at the plate in the ninth but could not complete the comeback in a 10-8 loss to Davidson as the Wildcats finished off a three-game sweep of the Southern Conference series.
The Bulldogs (8-12, 0-3 SoCon) trailed 10-4 before scoring one in the seventh and three in the eighth. Drew DeKerlegand drew a two-out walk off Matt Saeta in the ninth, but Calvin Orth grounded back to the pitcher to end The Citadel's rally.
The Bulldogs had 17 hits in the nightcap, including four home runs, but it was not enough to dig them out of an early hole. The Wildcats (10-6, 3-0), winners of seven in a row, put up eight runs in the first three innings against starter Austin Livingston and reliever Kevin Connell before the bullpen settled down.
Johnathan Stokes kick started the comeback with a solo homer to lead off the fourth, his first of the year. An inning later, Bo Thompson and Tyler Griffin went yard off Davidson starter Nick Neitzel, and DeKerlegand followed with another solo shot, his first of the season, off reliever Westin Whitmire to pull the Bulldogs within 8-4.
Thompson's homer was his fourth of the season and 21st of his career, moving him into a three-way tie with Curt Beerman and Dallas McPherson for 14th in school history. Griffin hit his third of the year and became the 18th Bulldog to reach 20 in a career.
Davidson temporarily halted The Citadel comeback when Forrest Brandt homered just inside the line in left to make it 10-4. An RBI single by Hughston Armstrong in the seventh and a two-run hit by Stokes and sacrifice fly by Mason Davis in the eighth made it only a two-run deficit before the Wildcats held on.
Stokes led The Citadel offense with three hits and three RBI while Davis, DeKerlegand, Orth, Ryan Kilgallen and Bailey Rush added two hits each. Brandt paced the Davidson attack with three hits and five RBI.
The Bulldogs return home to face top-ranked South Carolina on Tuesday at 7 p.m. After a trip to Winthrop on Wednesday, The Citadel plays its first SoCon series of the season at Riley Park when Samford visits for a three-game set beginning Friday.