March 11, 2011

Baseball Falls to Samford in Series Opener, 4-3

Charleston, S.C. – The Citadel Baseball team could not hold an early 3-0 lead as Samford rallied for a 4-3 victory on a cool Friday evening at Riley Park.

The loss snaps The Citadel's five-game win streak as Samford (9-6, 1-0) has now won three of the last four meetings between the two teams. It is also only the second conference loss for The Citadel at home since May 1, 2009, which ironically was also to Samford.

A highly touted pitching matchup pitted Samford's Kyle Putkonen, who threw a complete game shutout his last time out against Toldeo against The Citadel's Austin Pritcher (Charleston, S.C.) who threw 8.0 scoreless innings and struck out 13 in the Bulldogs' 4-0 shutout of Appalachian State last Friday.

The Citadel (7-6, 3-1) struck first off Putkonen in the bottom of the second inning when William Ladd (Winnsboro, S.C.) doubled and scored on an RBI triple off the bat of Joe Jackson (Mauldin, S.C.) In the fifth inning, the Bulldogs would plate two more off Putkonen when Grant Richards (Morrisville, N.C.) singled and then scored on an RBI triple by Nick Orvin (Moncks Corner, S.C.) who in turn scored when Samford third baseman Stephen Ballard tried to nail Orvin at the plate on a fielder's choice groundball. While Ballard's throw was on target, catcher Brad Moss couldn't hold on to the ball and Orvin slide safely into home.

After throwing five scoreless innings, Pritcher ran into trouble in the sixth inning when Samford led the inning off with a double, an RBI single and an RBI double to close the gap to 3-2. An RBI sac fly to right by Kevin Putkonen would then knot the game at three. In the seventh, a single and an error at third base by Drew DeKerlegand on a sac bunt play put a pair of runners on with no outs. A pair of wild pitches from Pitcher advanced the runners and eventually allowed shortstop Tyler Filliben to score what would become the winning run to make it 4-3.

Bulldog reliever TJ Clarkson (Coral Springs, Fla.) kept the game close with a pair of scoreless innings in the eighth and the ninth, but The Citadel could not muster anything off Samford reliever Andrew Jones who earned his first save of the season with 2.0 shutout innings allowing no hits and striking out four.

"We squandered opportunities offensively in the first three innings and that ended up being the difference in the ballgame," said Bulldogs Head Coach Fred Jordan. "Pritcher pitched a fine ballgame. He left the ball up in the strikezone late in the game and Samford was able to capitalize on it. We have our work cut out for us the rest of the weekend with the pitching staff they have."

Ervin went 2-for-5 with a run to lead Samford as Putkonen moved to 3-1 on the season with the win in 7.0 innings, allowing eight hits, three runs, one walk and striking out six. Justin Mackert (Cleveland, Ohio) and Orvin each had two hits apiece to lead The Citadel and Pritcher (3-1) suffered his first loss of the season going 7.0 innings, allowing four runs (three earned) on six hits, two walks and fanned six.

Game two of the series will take place on Saturday at 2 p.m. The game will be broadcast with play-by-play announcer Darren Goldwater on Fox Sports Radio 1450 AM in Charleston and video streamed online at Bulldog Insider. For more information on Bulldog Baseball, visit CitadelSports.com.

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