February 16, 2012

Bulldogs Open 2012 Slate with The Citadel Memorial Challenge


The Citadel will once again host their annual season-opening tournament at Joseph P. Riley Park in The Citadel Memorial Challenge presented by the Charleston Crab House. 2011 participant Towson, Richmond and Liberty round out the field for the tournament. 

Friday, February 17th
12:00 – Liberty vs. Richmond
4:00 – Towson vs. The Citadel 

Saturday, February 18th
11:00 – Liberty vs. Towson
2:30 – Richmond vs. The Citadel
6:00 – Towson vs. Liberty

Sunday, February 19th
10:00 – Richmond vs. Towson
2:00 – Liberty vs. The Citadel 

Towson graduated three All-Colonial Athletic Association infielders and an All-CAA pitcher. Four of the top six hitters graduated from a team that had a 26-28-1 overall record and a 15-15 CAA mark.

After a terrific run through the 2011 Atlantic 10 tournament, the Richmond Spiders return 21 letterwinners from last year's team that posted a 29-27-2 record.  Amongst its returnees, the Spiders get back seven starters from the field and four of its seven starting pitchers from a year ago.

Liberty was picked to finish second in the 2012 Big South Preseason Poll. The Flames have finished second in the conference standings in three of the last four seasons, including last year.

Sophomore infielder Drew DeKerlegand was selected to the Southern Conference preseason all-conference first team and senior outfielder Nick Orvin was chosen to the all-conference second team, as voted on by the league's 11 head coaches. 

Last season, DeKerlegand (Pearland, Texas) was selected to the SoCon All-Freshman Team after starting all 56 games in 2011 at third base for the Bulldogs and finishing with an average of .317 with 32 runs, 66 hits, 11 doubles, four triples, two homers and 24 RBI to go with 15 walks. The freshman was second on the team in triples, on base percentage and total bases and reached base in the final 16 contests of the season.

Orvin (Moncks Corner, S.C.) earned first team all-conference in 2011 after being named to the second team in 2010 and to the all-freshman team in 2009. He entered the career top-10 at The Citadel in runs scored last season and sits just three base knocks away from entering the career top-10 in hits. Last season, Orvin batted .320 with 74 hits, 47 runs, 14 doubles, nine home runs, 32 RBI, 23 walks and 19 stolen bases. He led the squad in hits, runs, homers, total bases, slugging percentage, walks and stolen bases in 2011. The centerfielder reached base in the final 23 games of the season.

Georgia Southern swept the top preseason awards, with junior outfielder Victor Roache named SoCon Preseason Player of the Year and junior right-hander Chris Beck as Preseason Pitcher of the Year.

The Citadel was picked to finish eighth in both the coaches' and media preseason polls. The SoCon baseball coaches have selected College of Charleston as the preseason favorite to win the league championship in 2012, while the media representatives who cover the league have chosen Georgia Southern as the conference favorite. The Cougars received six of the 11 possible first-place votes and 93 points in the coaches' balloting, narrowly edging Georgia Southern by a single point. The Eagles were the clear preseason favorite of the league's media, earning 20 of 25 first-place votes and 269 points overall.

The Citadel is 8-12 in season openers when under the direction of Fred Jordan. In 2011, The Citadel fell to Gardner-Webb, 6-5, in The Citadel Memorial Challenge.

2011                                Gardner-Webb            L, 6-5       H
2010                     East Tennessee State            W, 4-1      H
2009                                  Indiana State            L, 12-8     H
2008                                        Delaware            L, 7-2       H
2007                     East Tennessee State            W, 13-6    H
2006                   Virginia (Conway, S.C.)            L, 5-3       N
2005                                        Charlotte            L, 9-4       A
2004                                        Charlotte            W, 5-0      H
2003                                     Tennessee            L, 9-4       H
2002                       North Carolina State            W, 3-2      H
2001         Oklahoma State (Yuma, Ariz.)            L, 6-1       N
2000                                        Maryland            W, 7-2      H
1999                                          Virginia            L, 5-1       H
1998                             Coastal Carolina            W, 11-7    A
1997                                 East Carolina            W, 8-4      H
1996                            UNC Greensboro            W, 11-8    H
1995                                       Kentucky            L, 3-2       H
1994       North Carolina (Savannah, Ga.)            L, 3-1       N
1993                             Armstrong State            L, 10-9     A
1992                             Coastal Carolina            L, 9-3       A 

Under the tenure of Fred Jordan, The Citadel has compiled a record of 12-8 in home openers. The Bulldogs are 8-6 in home openers at Riley Park and 4-2 at College Park. The Citadel has won eight of their last 12 home openers. 

2011                                Gardner-Webb            L, 6-5
2010                     East Tennessee State            W, 4-1
2009                                  Indiana State            L, 8-12
2008                                        Delaware            L, 7-2
2007                     East Tennessee State            W, 13-6
2006                                      Richmond            W, 6-0
2005                                 Old Dominion            W, 6-5 (11)
2004                                        Charlotte            W, 5-0
2003                                     Tennessee            L, 9-4
2002                       North Carolina State            W, 3-2                                                              
2001                                      Richmond            W, 7-5
2000                                        Maryland            W, 7-2
1999                                          Virginia            L, 5-1
1998                                      Richmond            L, 9-4
1997                                 East Carolina            W, 8-4
1996                            UNC Greensboro            W, 11-8
1995                                       Kentucky            L, 3-2
1994                                        Charlotte            W, 3-1
1993                            UNC Greensboro            L, 9-8
1992                              UNC Pembroke            W, 3-2 

With 18 newcomers this season, The Citadel will feature a new look in several areas this season. The entire middle of the infield will be experiencing their first playing time in college as freshmen Bailey Rush and Johnathan Stokes will battle for the starting spot at short and Mason Davis has grabbed the spot at second. Two freshmen are likely to see significant time in starting pitching roles as Kevin Connell and James Reeves toe the rubber. With the loss of a handful of members of the last season's bullpen, several first-year players are expected to contribute in that area as well. 

The Citadel will play their first 16 games in the friendly confines of Riley Park to start the 2012 season. The Bulldogs don't leave Charleston until March 16 when they travel to Appalachian State. In addition, two of their first three SoCon series of the year will take place at home. 

After getting swept by Elon in last May, The Citadel finished their 2011 home conference schedule with a losing record (6-9) for the first time since moving to Riley Park back in 1997. In addition, the 22 league losses were the most in school history and The Citadel was swept in five different conference series for the first time ever. 

Matt Talley was selected by the Atlanta Braves with the 866th overall pick in the 28th round of the 2011 Major League Baseball Draft. After being drafted by the Arizona Diamondbacks in the 25th round of the 2010 MLB Draft, Talley elected to return to school for his senior season and complete his civil engineering degree. He leaves The Citadel ranked fifth all-time in career innings pitched with 300.0 and in career starts with 48. 

The southpaw was named the preseason SoCon Pitcher of the Year in 2011 after earning All-Region honors at the NCAA Regional in Columbia in 2010 when he picked up the win over No. 16 Virginia Tech as he allowed just two runs in 7.0 innings of work in the upset of the Hokies. Talley collected 21 career victories in 62 appearances with the Bulldogs that included 235 career strikeouts, four complete games and a pair of shutouts. Talley becomes the fifth player selected by the Braves from The Citadel and the first since Matt Crim was taken in the 21st round of the 2009 draft by Atlanta.

After breaking Chal Port's record for most wins in school history in 2010, Fred Jordan now eyes another milestone in 2012. The head coach, now in his 21st season, sits at 686 career wins. He needs 14 wins to reach the 700-win milestone for his collegiate career. 

Across the board, the Southern Conference saw a drastic change in 2011 as only one team (Western Carolina) boasted a team average over .300. In 2010, six SoCon team batted over .300. On the mound, SoCon teams threw 32 more shutouts last season than in 2010 and all but three teams (Wofford, Furman and Western Carolina) have an ERA under 5.00 while only The Citadel had an ERA under 5.00 last season (4.57). Through 20 games in 2011, The Citadel was hitting .292 as a team with 20 homers. With the new bats in 2011, the Bulldogs hit just .269 as a team with four homers in the first 20 games last season. 

The Citadel felt their fair share of heartbreak in the 2011 season. The Bulldogs went through a stretch where six consecutive SoCon games were decided by just one run, going 1-5 in those contests. 

On the season, The Citadel played in 14 one-run games, going 3-11 in those contests. In total, 25 of their games this season have been decided by two runs or less with a record of 7-19 in those games (2-13 in SoCon). The Bulldogs were among the national leaders in most one-run games played in Division I this season.

Several freshmen made significant contributions to the 2011 squad. Third baseman Drew DeKerlegand started in every game and recorded an 11-game hit streak to start his career. He reached base in 51 of 56 games this season including the final 16 of the year. Calvin Orth saw action at shortstop and at DH this season, adding six runs and 13 RBI while Tyler Griffin has been in as the DH, in left field and pinch hit with a grand slam and two doubles to go with nine RBI. Freshman backstop Joe Jackson alternated catching duties with Grant Richards and is batted .302 with 25 runs, 23 RBI and 20 walks to open his career. On the mound, Bryce Hines struck out 10 in his first career start against Old Dominion on Feb. 27 in a no-decision and struck out nine Cougars in a midweek start at College of Charleston in mid-May. Hines picked up his first career win against Appalachian State on March 5 with 6.0 innings of one-run ball. 


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