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The Citadel Blanks Furman, 6-0

Nate Smith
Nate Smith

GREENVILLE, S.C. -- Austin Pritcher pitched a complete game five-hit shutout to propel The Citadel to its ninth straight win with a 6-0 blanking of Furman in the opening game of a three-game Southern Conference baseball series Friday evening at Latham Stadium.

The Bulldogs (26-17, 13-6 SoCon) registered their seventh straight league victory behind Pritcher (5-2), who handled the Paladins (22-18, 9-13 SoCon), needing just 103 pitches and one hour and 59 minutes to post the win.  The senior right-hander struck out six and didn't walk a batter.

Furman starting pitcher Nate Smith (4-3) matched Pritcher for the first five innings before a fielding error in the sixth helped The Citadel scrore a pair of unearned runs.  Bret Hines, who reached on the miscue to leadoff, advanced to second on a sacrifice and to third on a groundout before Hughtston Armstrong's soft ground ball single in the grass in front of third base plated Hines.  Joe Jackson followed with an RBI double down the left field line to drive home Hughston for the 2-0 advantage.

The Bulldogs added two more runs in the seventh after Drew DeKerlegand drew a leadoff walk and scored ahead of Johnathan Stokes' third home run of the season, a two-run shot to left field.

The Citadel tallied their final runs in the ninth on a Stokes flare single down the right field line that plated DeKerlegand.  Calvin Orth tallied the final run on a fielder's choice ground out.

Pritcher was only threatened twice in the game and managed to escape both times.  He got out of a two-out, first-and-third situation in the fourth by retiring Alex Abrams on a ground out.

An inning later Pritcher worked out danger after Paul Nitto led off with a single and Greg Harrison followed with a single through the left side.  After a sacrifice advanced Nitto and Harrison, Pritcher got Jordan Simpson on an infield pop and struck out Jake Jones to douse the threat.

Stokes' 3-for-4, three-RBI performance headlined the Bulldogs' eight-hit attack.

Greg Harrision went 2-for-3 to lead Furman.

Smith was charged with the loss, allowing four runs, though only two were earned, on five hits over eight innings.  He walked three and struck out four.

First pitch for Saturday's game has been moved up to 2:00 p.m. at Latham Stadium.