CHARLESTON, SC - The Citadel Bulldogs exploded for six runs in the seventh inning to support a quality start from Jordan Merritt in an 8-1 win over Charleston Southern on Saturday afternoon at CSU Ballpark.
Merritt (W, 1-0) struck out a career-high eight and allowed one run over seven innings to pick up his first career win. He walked only two and scattered six hits in his first career start. The Citadel (4-5) erased a 1-0 lead with a pair of runs in the fourth, giving the junior all the run support he would need before eventually putting the game out of reach.
"He was great, throwing three pitches for strikes," Citadel head coach Tony Skole said of his starter. "He ran into some trouble in the first, but really settled down after that and gave one of our stronger starts to this point."
The Bulldogs piled up 11 hits, four in the decisive seventh to break open a 2-1 game and set up Sunday's rubber match.
"We were better offensively and had the one big inning," Skole added. We were able to velcro some at-bats and had five or six guys reach in-a-row. All day long, we were more competitive in batters' box and better defensively as well. Sunday is an opportunity and we've got to come out with the same approach with a chance to win the weekend."
Junior Ben Peden delivered a pair of RBI singles in the win including a two-run line drive to right in the seventh. Will Kinney, Jonathan Sabo, and Taylor Cothran all had two hits for the Bulldogs. Cothran was 2-for-4 with two RBI and scored twice. His two-run single in the seventh started the Bulldogs' biggest single frame of the season to-date.
Freshman DH Adam Colon had his first college hit and an RBI in his first start and Cameron Jensen scored twice for The Citadel. Thomas Byelick came on in relief, striking out two in two scoreless innings.
First baseman Aaron Miller was 4-for-4 for Charleston Southern.
Sunday's finale to the weekend series is scheduled for 1 p.m. at Riley Park.