The Citadel baseball team was able to edge out to a 2-0 lead early in Sunday's series finale with Indiana State, but the Sycamores scored five runs in the closing innings to earn a 5-2 win and the series sweep over the Bulldogs at Joe Riley Park.
"I thought our guys played hard today. We competed strong all game long and Alex (Bialakis) was phenomenal with six scoreless innings to start us off," head coach Tony Skole said. "You have to give (Indiana State) credit, they had some big swings at the plate and made some big plays in the field. We made a few too many errors today. We ran ourselves out of three innings, didn't play the best defense all the time, and I take responsibility for that. But I'm very proud of our guys in what was a very tough Sunday game after those first two games. Our guys came back and I'm very proud of them."
Starting Citadel pitcher Alex Bialakis got the Bulldogs (8-11) off to a great start as he sat the first three Sycamores (11-5) he saw down in order, including striking out the third batter looking. Bialakis pitched 6.2 innings, including six scoreless frames where he struck out six batters compared to giving up just four hits.
In the bottom of the second, Taylor Cothran led off with a single to left field before he advanced to second on a failed pickoff attempt by Indiana State's starting pitcher, Tristan Weaver. Two at-bats later, Ryan McCarthy singled to right field, scoring Cothran to give the Bulldogs their first lead in the series.
In the top of the fifth, Indiana State threatened to tie the game with one out, but Cothran fielded a double by Jarrod Watkins and hit William Kinney for the relay who sent a rocket to home plate where Bryce Leasure applied the tag to Jake Means, preserving the 1-0 Citadel advantage.
In the bottom of the sixth, after Bialakis and the Bulldog defense once again sat the Indiana State hitters down in order in the top of the inning, Andrew Judkins led off with a single through the left side. Three at-bats later, Jonathan Sabo sent a double down the left field line that allowed Judkins to race all the way home from first.
Despite the strong start from Bialakis and the Bulldog offense, Indiana State managed to find its rhythm late in the game as the Sycamores scored three runs in the top of the seventh to take a 3-2 lead.
The Bulldogs came close to at least tying the game back up in the eighth when Kinney singled through the left side and then advanced to second when Brown drew a five-pitch walk, but the Indiana State defense stood firm and shut the door before the offense added two more runs in the top of the ninth.
Bialakis (L, 2-1) suffered his first loss of the season despite the strong outing with Jordan Buster coming on in relief for the final 2.1 frames. Buster fanned four batters. Weaver (W, 2-1) earned the win on the mound as he pitched the first seven innings with Ethan Larrison (S, 5) coming on for his fifth save of the season.
The Citadel ended the game with eight hits, including a pair from Cothran. Indiana State bounced back from the slow start to tally 11 hits, including a 3-for-5 performance from Watkins and a 2-for-4 outing by Max Wright.
The Bulldogs will next host Southeastern Conference foe South Carolina for a midweek game at Joe Riley Park on Tuesday, March 20. First pitch against the Gamecocks is slated for 7 p.m.