James Reeves spotted Samford two runs in the first and then combined with two relievers to blank the Bulldogs the rest of the way, leading The Citadel to a 4-2 victory in the middle game of the Southern Conference series at Riley Park.
The Citadel is now 10-13 overall and 1-4 in the SoCon while Samford is 12-11 and 1-2 in the league with the rubber game set for Sunday at noon. The game was moved up an hour due to the forecast of rain in the Charleston area later in the day.
Reeves (3-1) overcame the shaky start which included a home run by Tyler Filliben and a shot to the fence in left with two on that was hauled in by Drew DeKerlegand to prevent an even bigger inning. He allowed only four singles over the next five frames and finished with seven strikeouts and no walks.
The junior lefty threw a career-high 105 pitches to get through his six innings and has 22 strikeouts against only one walk in his last two starts.
Zach McKay followed Reeves on the mound with a 1-2-3 seventh including a strikeout, and Skylar Hunter finished up for his sixth save of the year. The sophomore closer went two innings and allowed one hit while fanning three to earn the 19th save of his career, moving him into a tie with Drew Mahaffey for sixth place in Citadel history.
The Bulldogs got a break in the third when DeKerlegand's two-out fly ball to left was dropped by Damon Waller. Connor Walsh followed with a single for his first career RBI, bringing in DeKerlegand to cut The Citadel's deficit in half.
The Bulldogs tied the game on a Hughston Armstrong RBI single in the fourth and appeared to take a 6-2 lead when Tyler Griffin's long fly ball down the right field line was initially ruled a grand slam. However, the call was reversed to a foul ball after an umpire's meeting, and Griffin settled for a sacrifice fly that plated Mason Davis with the eventual winning run.
The Citadel added another tally in the sixth on a leadoff double by Davis and an RBI two-base hit by Griffin. The Bulldogs loaded the bases in the inning, but Patrick McGavin kept Samford in the game when he got Bret Hines to roll into a double play.
Davis finished with two hits, giving him a team-leading 11 multiple hit games on the year, and scored twice.
Jared Brasher (0-2) started for Samford and surrendered three hits and three runs (two earned) with four walks and two strikeouts in taking the loss.
Samford had a final chance to break through against the tough Citadel pitching in the eighth. Tripp Martin greeted Hunter with a double, and Drew McWhorter and Caleb Bryson drew walks to fill the bags. But Hunter escaped the jam when he blew a third strike past Waller to end the threat.
DeKerlegand was hit by a pitch in the first to increase his career total to 44, moving him past associate head coach David Beckley and into sole possession of second place in school history. DeKerlegand is seven behind record holder Daryl Byrd.