The Citadel nearly pulled off its second big comeback in as many days in the Southern Conference Tournament before seeing its rally fall just short in a 9-7 loss to second-seeded Davidson at Riley Park.
The Bulldogs will look to avoid elimination Thursday at 1 p.m. when they take on the loser of Wednesday's final game between Samford and Wofford. Davidson faces the winner of that game tomorrow at 8 p.m.
The Wildcats defeated the Bulldogs for the fourth time this season and first in eight tries in the SoCon Tournament. Davidson also set a school record with its 29th victory on the year and won a tournament game for the first time since 2004.
After storming back from a 6-1 deficit for a 10-7 win over Elon on Tuesday, The Citadel (24-33) again dug itself into a hole when it fell behind 7-1 after five. The Bulldogs still trailed by five when they scored twice in the eighth aided by a trio of unusual stolen bases to pull within 9-6, but Bo Thompson fouled out to left with the bases loaded to end the frame.
The Bulldogs still weren't finished despite seeing their first two batters retired in the ninth. Johnathan Stokes, Bret Hines and Ryan Kilgallen had consecutive singles, with Stokes scoring on an error on the Hines' base hit, to again bring the go-ahead run to the plate.
But Davidson closer Michael Goldberg was finally able to secure the win when he struck out Calvin Orth to earn his eighth save of the year. The Wildcats won despite being outhit 12-9 and committing five errors.
Davidson offset a Citadel run in the top of the first with four off Bulldog starterAustin Mason in the bottom of the inning including a solo homer by No. 2 hitter Lee Miller, his seventh in the past nine games. Both pitchers settled down and it remained 4-1 until the Wildcats put up three more in the fifth, highlighted by a two-run single by Sam Foy, that gave Davidson a 7-1 cushion.
The Citadel cut the deficit in half in the sixth with three runs. Singles by Thompson and DeKerlegand sandwiched around a walk to Griffin loaded the bases with nobody out, and a fielder's choice by Hines, an error and a wild pitch make it 7-4.
Davidson rebuilt its margin to 9-4 with two in the bottom of the sixth. In the eighth, DeKerlegand was hit by a pitch and Stokes singled before things got a bit unusual. Wildcat catcher Daniel Gerow came out to talk to pitcher Durin O'Linger, and DeKerlegand noticed that time had not been called.
The Bulldog left fielder took off for third and then home when he found no one covering the plate. Stokes made it to second on the play, with DeKerlegand credited with two stolen bases and Stokes one theft. An RBI single by Mason Davis brought home Stokes, and Hughston Armstrong reached on an infield single before Goldberg came in to retire Thompson.
Hines finished with three hits, the fourth time he has achieved that feat in his two-year career, and Thompson, Stokes and Kilgallen each had a pair of hits. However, The Citadel hurt its cause by stranding 11 runners on base.
Davidson starter Danny Mooney, an All-SoCon selection, went seven innings and allowed six hits and six runs (three earned) with four strikeouts and picked up his sixth win of the season. Mason took the loss, surrendering five hits and seven runs (four earned) with five strikeouts in 4.1 innings.
Zach Lavery helped keep the Bulldogs in the game with three innings of solid relief, giving up four hits and two runs (one earned) without walking a batter. Ross White got the final two outs in the eighth, stranding runners at first and second, to give The Citadel one last shot at pulling out the win.