May 30, 2004
Charleston, S.C. - Freshman Justin Smith pitched a complete-game in leading The Citadel to a an 8-1 victory over Western Carolina Sunday afternoon as the Bulldogs claimed the 2004 Southern Conference Championship at Riley Park. The Catamounts, who were trying to become the first eighth seed to win the tournament title, fell just short despite claiming upset win on the first three days of the event.
The Citadel (38-26) pulled away late for a 9-2 victory over the Catamounts (28-31) in the first championship game Saturday night, then scored runs in six of their eight innings Sunday for the 8-1 win in the second championship game. The Bulldogs earn the SoCon's automatic bid to the NCAA Regionals and will find out Monday afternoon their destination.
Smith improves to 2-0 on the season, allowing just six hits and one run with two walks and three strikeouts.
The Citadel struck first, scoring one run in the bottom of the second. Chip Cannon had a leadoff double and moved to third Jon Aughey sacrifice bunt. Mark Egleton plated Cannon with an RBI ground out to short stop.
As they did in the second, the Bulldogs got a leadoff double to start the third, this time by Will Coker, and would take a 2-0 lead. After getting two outs, Chris Ard drove in Coker with a single up the middle. Josh Stackley put runners on first and third with a hit-and-run single through the right side of the infield.
In the fourth, The Citadel padded their advantage with three runs in the bottom of the fourth. Aughey had a leadoff single and Egleton following single to left, advancing to second on the throw. Andy Phillips brought the two home with a single up the middle. Phillips moved up to second on a sac bunt and to third on a wild pitch. Matt Covington capped the scoring with an RBI single to center, tying a SoCon Championship record with his 13th hit of the tournament.
Cannon had his second big hit of the game, sending the first pitch in the bottom of the fifth inning down the right field line and over the fence for his 16th home run of the season. Aughey and Egleton followed with consecutive singles and each moved up on a ground out. However, WCU relief pitcher Brian McCullen got a strikeout to keep the game a 6-0 Bulldog advantage.
In the sixth, the Bulldogs plated another run to make the score 7-0. With one out, Covington was hit by a pitch and he moved to third on a single by Ard. Stackley then brought home Covington with a sacrifice fly to center. In the seventh, the Bulldogs made it an 8-0 game as Aughey had a leadoff single, stole second and scored on an Egleton single up the middle.
Western got on the board in the top of the eighth. Denver Edick started the frame with a walk. After a pair of ground outs moved Edick to third, Brian Barnes singled up the middle to cut WCU's deficit to seven (8-1).
Brad Josey suffered the loss, falling to 5-5 on the season. He allowed eight hits and five runs in 3.2 innings.
WCU three seniors Todd Roper, Brian Sigmon and Denver Edick all end their careers with hits, with Davis, Barnes and Brandon Zollman adding hits as well. Roper ends his career by getting a hit in 15 of his last 17 games while Sigmon and Edick , along with Davis, were named to the All-Tournament team. Roper, Sigmon and Edick also end their careers making an impact on WCU's baseball program. Not only did the three play significant roles in last year's SoCon Championship season, but they all appear in various single-season and career top 10 lists for the Catamounts. In addition, Roper ends as one of the SoCon's all-time leaders in hits, at bats and runs scored.