The Citadel baseball team bounced back from a tough 6-3 loss in the first game of Thursday's Southern Conference doubleheader at Mercer, recording a 5-4 win over the Bears in the day's second game to earn the split and set up a crucial rubber match on Friday.
Game 2: The Citadel 5, Mercer 4
The day's second game saw the Bulldogs (18-33, 7-16 SoCon) never trail after establishing a 2-1 lead in the second inning. Both of The Citadel's runs in the frame came with two outs on the board as Ryan McCarthy singled to left field with Adam Colon and Taylor Cothran loading the bases with back-to-back walks. Clay Martin then gave The Citadel the lead with a two-RBI single to right field, scoring McCarthy and Colon.
Mercer (35-19, 11-12 SoCon) was able to tie the game up with single runs in the bottom of the second and third, but Martin once again gave the 'Dogs the lead in the top of the fourth as he batted in McCarthy for the second time with a ground out to short. During the same play, Colon scored off a throwing error by the Mercer catcher to give The Citadel a 4-2 lead.
William Kinney was able to extend the lead to three, 5-2 as he was hit by a pitch in the top of the sixth with the bases loaded. That extra run proved to be the go-ahead insurance run for the Bulldogs in the ninth.
Mercer managed to make things interesting in the bottom of the ninth as JT Thomas logged a two-run homer with no outs, but Jordan Buster came on to record the final three outs, securing the win.
Thomas Byelick (W, 3-6) pitched the first five innings and struck out four batters to earn the win with Alex Bialakis coming on for the next three frames. Bialakis fanned seven batters compared to giving up one walk and four hits. Buster closed things out with one inning of work to earn his third save of the season.
Chase Burks (L, 5-5) was the pitcher of record for Mercer, striking out four batters, but giving up four runs, three of which were earned, and six hits.
Game 1: Mercer 6, The Citadel 3
In the day's first game, Mercer edged out to a 2-0 lead in the bottom of the first off a pair of extra-base hits. It was a lead that the Bulldogs never managed to overcome, despite pulling to within one in the top of the second when Martin doubled to left-center field, scoring Michael Ray.
The 'Dogs were able to knot the game at 3-3 with single runs in each of the sixth and seventh, but Mercer was once again able to extend things back out. In the sixth, Martin singled to center field, scoring Ben Peden and Cothran scored Jeffery Brown in the seventh. Brown ended the first game 4-for-5 at the plate with the one run scored while Martin ended his day with five total RBIs between the two contests.
Mercer managed to score the go-ahead run in the bottom of the seventh and added another two runs in the eighth, holding on for the three-run win.
Ian Foggo (L, 0-1) was the pitcher of record for the Bulldogs in the first game. Despite striking out two batters in 1.1 innings of work, he was saddled with his first loss of the season. Dylan Spence started the game and struck out seven batters in four innings of work.
Robert Broom (W, 10-2) closed out the game for Mercer, striking out four batters while giving up two runs and five hit after Austin Cox pitched the first five innings.
The Bulldogs and Bears will close out the series on Friday, May 18 with a single game at 6 p.m. The contest will be streamed live on ESPN+.