Citadel beats ASU 6-5
by Steve Behr Sports Editor
GREENVILLE, S.C. -- For Citadel slugger Joe Jackson, hitting a home run in key times only carries on a family tradition.
His great-great-great uncle is the legendary "Shoeless" Joe Jackson, the slugger who was caught up in the Chicago "Black Sox" scandal that exposed eight White Sox players who threw the 1919 World Series.
The Citadel's Joe Jackson wanted just one decent pitch to swing at when he went to bat in the bottom of the ninth inning. He got it when he blasted a Taylor Thurber offering over the center field fence, which gave the Bulldogs a 6-5 victory over Appalachian State in the first round of the Southern Conference Tournament Wednesday.
Appalachian State (28-23), seeded fifth in the tournament, plays No. 8 seed Samford Wednesday at 10 a.m. Samford lost 13-7 to No. 1 seed Western Carolina Wednesday. Appalachian State split 1-1 with Samford during the regular season.
"With a team like that, it's obviously a tough situation to put yourself in," Mountaineers coach Billy Jones said. "It felt like we were on defense forever at times."
Jackson, who walked three times during the game, came to bat after teammate Hughston Armstrong struck out to start the bottom of the ninth. Jackson, who is from Greenville, belted Thurber's pitch over center field of Fluor Field, which is a replica of Fenway Park in Boston.
"It was awesome. I had a lot of family here today that normally don't get to see me play, including my granddad," Jackson said. "It felt really good and comfortable at home. I was happy to see a good strike to hit."
The home run kept Appalachian State's Hector Crespo from potentially delivering the biggest hit of the game. Crespo, with two outs in the top of the ninth, cracked a two-run home run over the Fluor Field "Green Monster," which is similar to the left field wall at Fenway.
"I just wanted to step up for my team and I was able to get a fastball and put a good swing on it," Crespo said.
Crespo's home run, his fourth of the season, tied the game 5-5. It was the first time all game that the Mountaineers did not trail The Citadel since the second inning, when an RBI single from Michael Pierson tied the game 1-1.
"They had a great player at the plate in Crespo and we had a great player at the plate," Citadel coach Fred Jordan said. "We just had a walk-off."
Appalachian State nearly scored the go-ahead run in the ninth. Noah Holmes doubled one at-bat after Crespo, and was replaced by pinch runner Brandon Burris. Will Callaway hit an infield single, but Burris was thrown out at home trying to score.
Appalachian State never led at any time in the game. The Citadel scored three runs in the bottom of the third inning when Drew DeKerlegand belted a three-run double off the Monster in left field. Pierson got two of those runs back with a solo home run in the top of the fourth by Pierson, and a sacrifice fly from Crespo.
Pierson got both of his hits off Citadel ace Austin Pritcher, who is also the SoCon's Pitcher of the Year. Pierson almost faced Pritcher for another time in the fourth inning, but Pritcher was pulled by Citadel coach Fred Jordan after reaching a pitch-count of 112.
Pritcher allowed three earned runs on six Appalachian State hits in 4 2/3 innings. Pritcher hurt himself by walking five Mountaineers, and struck out five others.
Appalachian State starter Jamie Nunn gave up five earned runs on five hits. He struck out six, but also walked five.
The Mountaineers' staff hurt itself by walking eight batters. Appalachian State's offense did not help itself by having two runners get picked off base.
The Citadel 9, Appalachian State 8
Appalachian State 010 200 002 -- 5 9 0
The Citadel 103 000 101 -- 6 6 2
One out when winning run scored
Nunn, Springs (7), Thurber (7) and Zumbrook. Pritcher, White (5), Sherrill (7), Rivera (8), Hunter (9) and Jackson. W--Hunter (3-4), L--Thurber (3-2). LOB--ASU 7, The Citadel 9. 2B--ASU, Holmes, Davis; The Citadel, Jackson. 3B--The Citadel, DeKerlegand. HR--ASU, Pierson (2); The Citadel, Jackson (13). SH--ASU, Zumbrook. SF--ASU, Crespo; The Citadel, Griffin. HBP--The Citadel, Griffin (by Nunn). DP--ASU 1.