CHARLESTON, SC - – Thomas Byelick pitched his first collegiate complete game in the second contest of Saturday's Southern Conference doubleheader and struck out seven batters in the process, leading The Citadel baseball team to a split with Furman at Joe Riley Park. The Paladins claimed the day's first game 11-5 in 10 innings while the Bulldogs bounced back for the 6-1 win in the second game.
Furman (20-23, 5-9 SoCon) turned four double plays in the first game but went 0-for-9 with runners in scoring position in the day's second contest while The Citadel (15-26, 4-10 SoCon) turned three double plays on the day, including two in the second game.
"I'm very proud of Thomas, he gave us a much-needed quality start there and had really good stuff all game long. He pitched his way out of a few jams and they were 0-for-9 with runners in scoring position, and that was a big key to his success," said head coach Tony Skole. "That was a great way to end the day, especially after the way the first game ended. We tied it up there in the ninth even though we made a lot of mistakes and we still had a chance to win it.
"I'm just very proud of the way our guys battled today and it gives us a chance to win the series at home tomorrow," Skole continued. "We played very good defense in the second game and we fed off of Thomas. Clay (Martin) had a great day, both at the plate and in the field, and we need our upper classmen to play well. We are going to try to ride those more experienced guys for the last month of the regular season."
Game 1: Furman 11, The Citadel 5
In the day's first game, the Bulldogs logged eight hits, including two each by Jonathan Sabo and Adam Colon. Sabo went 2-for-5 with a pair of RBIs and Colon went 2-for-4 with a run scored.
Furman registered 15 hits in the game with four Paladins notching multi-hit games. Jason Costa and Brandon Elmy each went 3-for-6 with two runs batted in with a run scored. Landon Kay went 2-for-5 with an RBI and two runs scored and Dillon Love went 2-for-4 with a run scored.
The Paladins started the day off by plating two runs in the top of the third followed by adding a single run in the top of the fifth off a home run down the left field line by Jason Costa.
In the bottom of the fifth, the Bulldogs got all three runs back as Colon, Jeffery Brown and William Kinney scored with two outs on the board. Colon scored when the Furman first baseman mishandled a sharply-hit ball by Bryce Leasure and then Sabo drove in Brown and Kinney with a bases-loaded single up the middle.
Furman managed to retake the lead in the top of the sixth with two unearned runs, but The Citadel answered in the ninth, sending the game to an extra inning.
In the bottom of the ninth, Taylor Cothran led off by wearing a pitch and two at-bats later, Colon had a ground-rule double down the right field line, putting two players in scoring position. After the Bulldogs sent Cameron Jensen in to pinch run for Colon at second, Clay Martin took advantage of the opportunity and delivered with a first-pitch single up the middle that scored both Cothran and Jensen.
In the top of the tenth, Furman exploded for six runs, including three with two outs, and essentially put the game away.
Dylan Spence started the game for the Bulldogs and pitched seven innings, striking out five batters while giving up 10 hits and five runs, three earned. Zach Taglieri (L, 0-1) was saddled with the loss despite pitching just 1.2 innings that saw him strike out three batters compared to giving up one hit and one earned run.
Grant Schuermann (W, 3-6) earned the win on the bump for the Paladins as he worked 4.1 innings.
Game 2: The Citadel 6, Furman 1
The Bulldogs wasted little time in bouncing back from the disappointment of the first result, establishing a solid lead by scoring two runs in the first, another solo run in the second and two more in the third inning.
Kinney started things off by scoring an unearned run off a single to left field by Ben Peden in the bottom of the first frame. Cothran then sent a sacrifice fly to left field, scoring Leasure and putting the 'Dogs up 2-0.
In the bottom of the second, Brown singled through the left side to score Colon and in the next inning, Ryan McCarthy singled to score Cothran. Colon rounded out the early scoring by pushing McCarthy across the dish with a groundout to second.
In the fourth, Furman got a run back, but Kinney extended the lead back out with a sacrifice fly out to deep center field in the bottom of the eighth, scoring Martin, who led off the frame with a double to left-center field.
Martin, Brown and Peden all went 2-for-4 in the game as the Bulldogs produced nine hits. In comparison, six different Paladins logged single hits for Furman's six hits.
Byelick (W, 1-6) went the distance on the mound to earn his first win of the season, striking out seven batters, one off his career high. John Michael Bertrand (L, 4-2) was saddled with the loss as he also pitched a complete game while giving up six runs, two of which were earned, and three walks compared to two strikeouts.
The Citadel and Furman will play the final game of the series at 1 p.m. on Sunday, April 29.
-per The Citadel Athletics