The Citadel baseball team dropped the series-opener of a three-game series 10-3 to Indiana State Friday evening at Joe Riley Park.
"We weren't very competitive in the batter's box tonight, and (Tyler Ward) had a lot to do with it," said head coach Tony Skole. "We just couldn't get comfortable and he got us out of any rhythm of momentum we had. I thought Dylan Spence pitched very well for us, he gave us a chance early in the game, but we made a couple errors and (Indiana State) got some big hits. They're a quality ball club, but I still felt like Dylan gave us a good start. We just had no answer for them offensively.
"I was proud of how things went in the bottom of the ninth as we brought some guys off the bench and they responded," Skole continued. "We'll challenge our guys to do better tomorrow and I'm excited to see how they'll respond."
The Sycamores (9-5) took a 3-0 lead through the first six innings with single runs in the first, fifth and sixth. Despite the deficit, the Bulldog defense was able to minimize the damage done by Indiana State's hitters with a pair of double plays and two three-up, three-down frames.
Indiana State eventually stretched the lead out with a pair of runs in the seventh, three runs in the eighth and another two in the ninth to take a 10-0 lead.
In the bottom of the ninth, the Bulldogs (8-9) avoided the shutout with a three-spot off three hits, a sacrifice fly and a Sycamore error. Three of the Bulldogs' four pinch hitters recorded a hit as Jeffery Brown, Brooks O'Brien and Cole Buffington each went 1-for-1 with a run scored. O'Brien, Cameron Jensen and starting first baseman Ben Peden all had an RBI in the frame.
The bottom of the ninth started off with Brown singling up the middle. During O'Brien's at-bat, Brown made his way around to third on a pair of wild pitches, setting up O'Brien's first RBI of the season when he laced a ball to center field. On the next at-bat, Buffington sent a blooper to the Indiana State third baseman and had just enough time to beat out the throw to first.
After Buffington advanced to second on another wild pitch, Jensen sent a sacrifice fly to shallow left field, but it was still enough for O'Brien to race home and Buffington to make it to third.
After the Sycamores made a pitching change, Peden grounded out to second base, scoring Buffington for the final run of the game.
Andrew Judkins was the only Bulldog to record multiple hits in the outing as he went 2-for-3. In comparison, five Sycamores recorded multi-hit games led by Max Wright's 2-for-4 outing that included three runs batted in and a pair of runs scored.
Tyler Ward (W, 3-1) pitched 8.1 innings with seven strikeouts, one walk and three wild pitches for the Sycamores to earn his third win of the season. Dylan Spence (L, 0-2) was the pitcher of record for the Bulldogs, going 6.0 frames with two strikeouts.
The Bulldogs and the Sycamores will continue the series on Saturday, March 17 with a 2 p.m. first pitch. During the season, Saturdays at the ballpark are Service Saturdays with active-duty service members and veterans as well as members of service groups and non-profits being admitted for $2 off with valid ID (maximum 4).