May 29, 2004
Charleston, S.C. - The Citadel, who Western Carolina defeated 5-2 on Friday night, scored a total of five unearned runs in the fifth and sixth innings and pulled away late to defeat the Catamounts 9-2 Saturday at Riley Park. Western Carolina (28-30) and The Citadel (37-26) will turn around to play a second championship game to determine who will win the 2004 Southern Conference Tournament and earn the automatic berth to the NCAA Championship. First pitch on Sunday is set for 2 pm.
The Citadel got a complete game from SoCon Pitcher of the Year Jonathan Ellis (11-3), his second complete-game victory of the tournament. Ellis, who struggled early, settled down to scatter seven hits, allowing two runs (one earned) and four walks with eight strikeouts. Ellis threw 136 pitches Saturday night, after tossing over 130 pitches in the Bulldogs win over East Tennessee State in the first round on Wednesday.
Western, who left 10 runners on base for the game. struck first, putting a single run on the board in the bottom of the fourth. Denver Edick had a leadoff single and moved to third on a single to right by Mike McGowan. Freshman Dustin Penland brought home the game's first run with a single to left-center field, plating Edick.
The Bulldogs came back to score three unearned runs in the top of the fifth, making the score 3-1. With two outs, Andy Phillips reached on an error and moved to second on a single by Will Coker. Matt Matulia followed with a single to left, driving in Phillips on the play. Matt Covington then plated Coker and Matulia with a double down the left field line. Covington was retired at third trying stretch the double into a triple, but the damage had already been done.
The Citadel added two more unearned runs in the top of the sixth without the benefit of a hit to take a 5-1 lead. New Catamount pitcher Luke Miller came in to hit the first batter he faced, Chris Ard. Then, on a bunt attempt, Miller threw the ball away, putting runners on second and third. Chip Cannon plated Ard with an RBI ground out and moved Josh Stackley to third. Jon Aughey put runners on first and third when he was hit by a pitch. Mark Egleton reached on a fielder's choice to load the bases. Phillips followed Egleton's lead by reaching on a fielder's choice, driving in Stackley on the play.
Western trimmed its deficit to three (5-2) in the bottom of the eighth, scoring an unearned run. Brian Sigmon started the home half by reaching on an error. After a ground out put Sigmon on second, Penland drove in his second run of the game with a sharp single up the middle.
The Bulldogs added four insurance runs in the top of the ninth, to make the score 9-2. The Citadel had consecutive singles by Matulia and Covington. Ard moved the runners up 90 feet with a sacrifice bunt. A sacrifice fly to center by Stackley plated Matulia. Cannon then tripled down the right field line and scored on a double by Aughey. Egleton capped the scoring with an RBI single up the middle.
Citadel was led offensively by Covington's four hits and two RBI. Cannon added two hits and two RBI, while Matulia had two hits and scored twice.
Western got two hits and two RBI from Penland, while Chris Davis added two hits. Mike McGowan was the tough-luck loser, falling to 0-2 on the season. He only allowed four hits over 5.0 innings as all three of his runs were unearned. He did not walk a batter and struck out three.