Sears strikes out 15, Citadel falls to Samford 1-0


BIRMINGHAM, Ala. – The Citadel baseball team came up just short as Samford hit a two-out walk-off double in the bottom of the ninth inning to win 1-0 Thursday night at Joe Lee Griffin Field.

Despite the loss, the story of the night was starting pitcher and former Wilson Hall standout JP Sears. After being named to the prestigious Golden Spikes Award Midseason Watch List earlier this week, Sears proved why with 15 strikeouts in eight shutout innings of Samford.

Sears was dominant once again, recording his fourth double-digit strikeout game of the year and his eighth of his career as he mowed down the Samford lineup. Sears also posted 15 or more strikeouts for the third time this year, the fourth of his career. The Citadel southpaw struck out the side in both the second and fourth inning and struck out two batters in four other innings.

The reigning Southern Conference Pitcher of the Month allowed just four hits and three walks in eight shutout innings. Sears grinded through the final two innings of the night, stranding two runners on in the seventh and eighth.

After Sears departed, Aaron Lesiak entered the ball game in the ninth. The Citadel (10-21, 2-5 SoCon) right hander allowed a lead-off single, but then struck out the next two batters. With two strikes on Samford's Anthony Mulrine, the catcher sent a fly ball to left-center field where Joe Sabatini made an all-out diving attempt to make the catch. The ball fell in, however, and Jordan Fucci scored from first base to give the host Bulldogs the victory.

The Citadel offense finished with six hits, but left 11 runners on base. The Bulldogs loaded the bases in the first inning, but were unable to come across with a run early. Six different players accounted for the hits for The Citadel.

Mississippi State 7

South Carolina 4

COLUMBIA -- Eighth-ranked South Carolina fought and rallied to score four in the bottom of the seventh inning, but fell short as 13th-ranked Mississippi State edged the Gamecocks 7-4 on Friday at Founders Park.

Carolina is now 21-12 on the year and 7-6 in league play, while the Bulldogs improve to 24-13 overall and 9-4 in the SEC.

Down 5-0 heading into the bottom of the seventh, the Gamecocks recorded four runs on five hits, including three singles and two doubles to come within one run of MSU, but the Bulldogs added two runs in the top of the ninth to secure the win.

Sophomore left-hander Konnor Pilkington earned the win and is now 3-3 on the year. He allowed four runs, two earned, on six hits with one walk and seven strikeouts in six innings of work. Sophomore right-hander Spencer Price picked up his 12th save of the season after throwing a hitless 2/3 of an inning of relief with one strikeout. Junior right-hander Clarke Schmidt suffered the loss and is now 4-1 on the season. He allowed five runs, two earned, on five hits with one walk and 11 strikeouts in eight innings of work. Schmidt retired 19 batters in a row before giving way to left-hander Josh Reagan in the ninth.

Mississippi State broke ahead early as Brent Rooker launched a solo homer to center field in the top of the first inning, his 16th of the season and 57th RBI this year. 

The Bulldogs added four more in the top of the second to take a 5-0 lead. Elijah MacNamee led off with a single to left-center and advanced to second on a sacrifice bunt by Josh Lovelady. Tanner Poole walked and Luke Alexander reached on a fielding error to load the bases for Hunter Stovall, who brought in two runs with a single to left-center. With the bases loaded for a second time, Ryan Gridley knocked in a pair of runs with a 2-out single through the right side.

South Carolina got on the board in the bottom of the seventh inning with four runs. Chris Cullen led off with a single to left field and Alex Destino followed with another single to left. Cullen would score the Gamecocks’ first run on a wild pitch. Olson kept the hit parade going as he drove in Destino in with a single and made it to second on a throwing error by Gridley. LT Tolbert drove in Carolina’s third run of the inning as he singled to left to bring Olson home. Jonah Bride’s 2-out double to left field scored Tolbert to bring the Gamecocks within one run. On the play, the Gamecocks looked to tie the game up but Madison Stokes was thrown out trying to score at home plate to end the frame.

A pair of errors would lead to two unearned runs in the ninth inning for Mississippi State.