By: Drake Browne
Southern Conference Tournament Day 3 Recap
Georgia Southern and Samford, both 2-0, took the day off as the remaining one-loss teams battled for the right to move on in tournament play. The way the tournament is set up, both of the 2-0 teams will have to be defeated twice on Saturday, with the winners of each separate bracket facing off in Sunday’s championship game.
Game #1: #3 Elon 7, #7 The Citadel 3
Elon’s David Whitehead, a sophomore from Cincinnati, OH, threw his first career complete game as Elon eliminated The Citadel in the first game of the day. Whitehead allowed only three runs on eight Bulldog hits, while striking out six.
The Phoenix jumped out to an early 4-0 lead with Joey Tomko’s second home run of the season. Ryan Kinsella, and All-SoCon selection, blasted an opposite field home run in the fifth, his eighth of the year.
The Citadel scored twice in the sixth, but was unable to make up the large deficit as Whitehead settled in and completed the victory
The loss will conclude the incredible careers of Bulldog seniors Justin Mackert and Nick Orvin. The two played a major role in the club’s 2010 SoCon Championship, and have been key leaders for The Citadel this year.
Citadel Head Coach Fred Jordan said, “Sometimes the game doesn’t treat you well and that is what is great about this game. It just wasn’t our time. But it is no fault to Nick Orvin or Justin Mackert. They had a great four years.”
Elon advances to play Georgia Southern, needed two victories over the Eagles to move on to Sunday’s championship game. Georgia Southern handed Elon their only loss in the tournament, dominating the Phoenix pitching staff in a 19-2 victory.
Kinsella said, “We took to heart the beating we got the other night against Georgia Southern. It was time for the offense to step up and help out the pitchers. We had to brush that loss off and learn from it.”
Game #2: #8 Furman 13, #1 Appalachian State 4
After losing to App State in the opening round of the tournament, the Furman Paladins bounced back and eliminated the top-seeded Mountaineers in convincing fashion.
Appalachian State started the game with three consecutive hits, including a two RBI double by right fielder Tyler Tewell. The Mountaineers were able to score three runs in the first frame, before hitting into a double play to end the inning.
The Paladins were quick to respond, having their first five hitters reach base safely in the bottom of the first inning. Will Muzika then ripped a line drive directly at the left fielder for a sacrifice fly, which tied the game at 3 a piece. This would be the only out recorded by Appalachian State starter Rob Marcello, the second game in a row that the Paladins have lifted the opposing starter after only 0.1 innings of work.
After recording 7 runs off of 6 hits in the bottom of the first, Furman added two runs in both the second and third to extend the lead.
Freshman third baseman Chris Ohmstede led the offensive charge, going 4-4 with three RBI. Taylor Johnson, Jake Jones, and Hunter Burton all posted three hit nights, while seven different Paladins collected at least one RBI.
Ohmstede said, “We are all playing hard, especially for our seniors. They are a great crew and we are playing every game so it is not their last.”
Jones added, “Quite frankly, I did not want this to be my final game with this group of seniors. They have been incredible leaders and they deserve to go out on top.”
Furman starting pitcher Elliot Warford was able to settle in and quiet the powerful bats of Appalachian State. Warford, who was primarily used as the team’s closer in 2012, threw a career high eight innings, scattering 10 hits and striking out eight batters. The win improves his record to 6-0 on the year.
Warford said, “Our whole team was ready to go tonight. I made some mistakes early, but luckily I got my breaking stuff going around the third or fourth inning and was able to limit the damage. It meant a lot for the coaches to stick with me and keep throwing me back out there.”
Jacques de Gruy finished the game on the mound for the Paladins, who move on to play Samford in the semi-final round.
Senior captain Will Owens said, “They (App State) have a great team this year and I was proud of how we responded after going down early. The fact that we hung in there and came back shows the potential this team has.”
On a side note, Warford credited his success to the team’s mentoring program in which older players are assigned a freshman to take under their wing. He said, “Drake Browne is the best mentor I could possibly have, I appreciate him keeping me mentally sane throughout the season.”