CHARLESTON, S.C. – Presbyterian College left-handed pitcher Brian Kehner and Citadel lefty JP Sears battled for the better part of seven innings on Friday night but ultimately Sears and the Bulldogs came away with the 2-1 victory at Joseph P. Riley Park in Charleston, S.C. The two are scheduled to play game two of the series on Saturday at 1 p.m.
Sears (3-1) earned the victory on the series opener, as he allowed just one run on three hits with two walks against three strikeouts. Kehner (4-1) allowed two runs on four hits with six strikeouts against three walks for the tough-luck loss. Zach Levery recorded the save for the Bulldogs with 2.0 scoreless innings pitched to close out the game.
Weston Jackson recorded one of three PC hits in the game, hitting a solo home run to score the lone run. Brett Auckland and Tyler Weyenberg accounted for the remaining two hits in the game, each recording singles. Weyenberg, the reigning Big South Player of the Week, extended his hitting streak to 12 games.
PC got on the board first with one run in the top of the second. Jackson hit his team-high fourth home run of the season, a solo shot to center, to give the Blue Hose the 1-0 lead.
The Citadel answered with a run in the bottom half of the inning. A leadoff walk followed by back-to-back singles loaded the bases with no outs. Kehner was able to wrangle his way out of trouble with minimal damage, though, picking off the runner on first, before getting a sac fly and a strikeout to end the inning with just one run coming across.
After the second, Kehner allowed just two of the next 13 batters to reach base and faced just one above the minimum over the next four innings.
PC threatened in the fourth, getting the first two batters of the inning on base. Weyenberg led off with a single, while an error followed that allowed him to move to second and Peter Johnson to reach base with no outs. Sears was able to induce a 5-4 double play to erase the runners, before getting a groundout to end the inning with no damage.
The Blue Hose put a runner in scoring position with one out in the sixth. Auckland led off with a single up the middle but was erased 5-4 on a fielder’s choice by Weyenberg for the first out of the inning. A few pitches later, Weyenberg stole second to get in scoring position. Back-to-back groundouts to short would leave him stranded and keep the game knotted at 1-1.
In the seventh, the Citadel was able to scratch across the go-ahead run to take the 2-1 lead. After a strikeout to open the inning, the Bulldogs got a walk and a hit-by-pitch to put two on with one out to end Kehner’s night. Russell Thompson came on to pitch for the Blue Hose and would face pinch-hitter Clay Martin. Thompson would win the battle by getting a 1-3 groundout for the second out of the inning. However, a hit-by-pitch loaded the bases, before a four-pitch walk brought home the eventual winning run for the Citadel.
Hayden Deal came in and got a groundout for the final out in the seventh to strand three Bulldog runners. Deal then pitched a scoreless eighth for PC, retiring the side in order to set down all four batters he faced in the contest.
Levery pitched the final two innings for the Citadel with much of the same success that Sears had in the first seven innings. The righty retired all six batters he faced, inducing five groundouts to prevent any potential Blue Hose rally.
Four different players accounted for the Citadel’s four hits. Drew Ellis was 1-for-2 with a run, while Stephen Windham scored the team’s only other run of the game.