May 30, 2010

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CBI Live
The Citadel rides five-run first to Southern Conference title

By Phil Stanton Co-Founder


CHARLESTON, S.C. – After a tournament full of thrillers, the finale was over early.


Top-seeded The Citadel used a five-run first to roll to a 10-3 victory over sixth-seeded Western Carolina Sunday afternoon in the championship game of the Southern Conference Tournament in front of 4,895 fans at Joseph P. Riley, Jr. Park, the third-largest crowd in tourney history.


The Bulldogs (42-20) captured their eighth SoCon title (first since 2004) and earned an automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament. The Citadel won its 12th straight game, the second-longest steak in the nation.


The early runs benefited Bulldog starter Asher Wojciechowski (12-2), who went eight innings (100 pitches) with seven hits, three runs (two earned), one walk and eight strikeouts. The potential first-round pick received a standing ovation when he was taken out the game.


“It felt great,” Wojciechowski said, “walking off that field and getting a standing ‘O’. It was something special. I’ll remember this forever.”


It was the second win of the tournament for Wojciechowski, as he pitched eight innings (117 pitches) against Furman on Wednesday.


“I was leaning that way,” said Bulldog head coach Fred Jordan about his pitching decision. “At 8:45 last night he called me and he said ‘I want the rock.’ There was no way I was going to argue with him. He held up his end of the bargain and he’ll be ready to go this weekend.”


Wojciechowski tied a school record for wins in a season.


The Citadel erupted in the top of the first. Nick Orvin had a leadoff double off the scoreboard in left and scored on a single by Brad Felder. Matt Simonelli had a base hit and RBI singles by Bryan Altman and tournament Most Outstanding Player Justin Mackert made it 3-0. Kyle Jordan had a run-scoring groundout and David Greene capped the rally with a sacrifice fly to right to make it 5-0.


“That took a lot of pressure off,” Wojciechowski said. “We put up a five-spot in the first and going out there, knowing all I had to do was throw strikes, pound the zone, let their players get out. It gave me a lot of confidence and took a lot of pressure off me.”


The Bulldogs added a pair in the second as Jordan hit a bouncer toward the second baseman that took a huge bounce over his head for a two-run double and a 7-0 advantage.


WCU scratched for one in the third as Ollie Goulder singled and scored on an error to make it 7-1.


David Greene hit a two-run single in the fourth as The Citadel stretched its lead to 9-1.


Ross Heffley doubled and scored in the bottom of the frame, and Matt Johns had a RBI single in the sixth for the Catamounts.


Jordan and Greene both finished with three RBI. Altman scored three for the Bulldogs.


WCU starter Matt Benedict (9-2), who pitched 7.2 innings on Wednesday against Georgia Southern, was knocked out of the game in the fifth. He worked 4.1 innings with 11 hits, 10 runs (eight earned), two walks and one strikeout.


Heffley and Austin Schultz both had two hits for the Catamounts (37-21-1).


“I’m very proud of my team,” WCU head coach Bobby Moranda said. “We’re very disappointed that we didn’t win a championship, but I’m very proud of our leadership on our team, proud of our program and the direction it’s going. It was an exciting tournament for our program and we’ll be back.”


With 42 victories, The Citadel has its most wins in a season under head coach Fred Jordan and second-most in school history. The 1990 College World Series team recorded 46 wins.


Tournament notes


The 2010 SoCon Tournament drew 21,511 fans, an average of 1,537 for 14 games.


The Southern Conference All-Tournament Team

SP – Asher Wojciechowski, The Citadel

SP – Jimmy Reyes, Elon

RP – Brandon Johnson, Western Carolina

C – Ollie Goulder, Western Carolina

1B – Justin Mackert, The Citadel

2B – Wes Hobson, Appalachian State

SS – Jamie Holler, College of Charleston

3B – Hector Crespo, Appalachian State

OF – Chris Alessandria, Appalachian State

OF – William Ladd, The Citadel

OF – Matt Johns, Western Carolina

DH – Brad Felder, The Citadel


Walt Nadzak Award, Tournament Most Outstanding Player

Justin Mackert, The Citadel


(photos courtesy of Southern Conference Media Relations Office)