CHARLESTON, SC - Clay Martin's infield single scored Ryan Kilgallen with two outs in the ninth, giving The Citadel a 9-8 win over Alabama State in the opener of a three-game series at Riley Park.
Skylar Hunter, the last of seven Bulldog pitchers, blanked the Hornets over the final two innings to pick up the win and even his record at 1-1. The junior helped himself out of jams in the eighth and ninth to preserve the tie and set the stage for the final inning dramatics.
Game two of the series takes place Saturday at 3 p.m. and the finale is set for noon on Sunday. The game was the first ever on the diamond between The Citadel (5-4) and Alabama State (3-5).
Kilgallen drew a one-out walk from Armando Ruiz (0-1) and advanced to third on a wild pitch and ground out. Martin then rolled a slow grounder to second, and Yamil Pagan couldn't make the play on the Bulldog leadoff hitter as Kilgallen crossed the plate with the winning run.
Hunter faced a first-and-third situation with two outs in the eighth when P.J. Biocic tried to score when a pitch got away from Kilgallen. The Bulldog catcher reacted quickly and threw home where Hunter applied the tag to keep the game even at 8.
In the ninth, P.J. Harris drew a two-out walk but was picked off first by Hunter to again thwart a potential Hornet threat.
The Kilgallen run was the first since both teams put up eight runs over the first four innings. After the Hornets scored twice in the top of the first, the Bulldogs answered with three in their half, including an RBI single by Drew Ellis and bases loaded walks to Connor Walsh and Philip Watcher.
A two-run triple by Cesar Rivera highlighted a three-run Hornet second, but again The Citadel responded on the strength of a two-run single by Stephen Windham to tie the game at 5. After a scoreless third, the fireworks continued in the fourth with both clubs tallying three times. Ellis and Watcher drove in runs with singles and Kilgallen produced a sacrifice fly to make it 8-8.
The Bulldog defense snuffed out a double steal attempt in the sixth when Watcher gunned down Einar Munoz attempting to score on the back end. Both teams also stranded runners in scoring position in the seventh.
Johnathan Stokes doubled twice and scored three runs for The Citadel while Ellis, Kilgallen and Austin Mapes joined him with two base hits. Chris Biocic knocked out three hits and drove in three for Alabama State.
Regular Friday starter James Reeves was scratched with an illness, and Austin Livingston went 2.2 innings in his stead, allowing seven hits and five runs. The bullpen was then able to slow down the Hornet attack, including 1.2 innings of one-hit, scoreless relief from Brett Tompkins.
Alabama State was also without projected starter T.J. Renda, who missed his appearance with a sore arm. Tyler Howe started instead and struggled in his one inning, allowing three hits and three walks as the Bulldogs tagged him for four runs.