Archive for May, 2013

Q&A: Southern Conference commissioner John Iamarino discusses future of league

May 30, 2013
The SoCon Commissioner

The SoCon Commissioner

by: Jeff Hartsell, The Charleston Post-Courier

May 29,2013

The line of dominoes that began falling when the ACC raided the Big East for Boston College, Miami and Virginia Tech 10 years ago has finally reached the Southern Conference.

With five schools leaving the SoCon, the mid-major league is expected to issue invitations to prospective members VMI, East Tennessee State and Mercer at its spring meetings this week in Hilton Head.

Commissioner John Iamarino addressed several topics related to SoCon expansion ahead of the meetings.
Q: Why hasn’t the SoCon been able to move faster on this?

A: Frankly, I was frustrated that we didn’t take definitive action at our April meeting in Charlotte. But fans have to understand that the commissioner doesn’t push a button and decide we’re going to expand. Commissioners can recommend, and I’ve certainly done that all along. But ultimately presidents and chancellors decide, and this group has chosen to be patient and wait until they have all the facts. Our movement will affect other conferences, and they will have to react. I honestly think in another 10 years, a new set of administrators and commissioners will wake up and say, “Why exactly did we do this? Why are we getting on airplanes for regular season games?”

Q: Given all the recent changes, how confident are you in the “core seven” of The Citadel, Furman, Wofford, Chattanooga, Samford, Western Carolina and UNC Greensboro?

A: After the announcements by Davidson and Elon, the athletic directors from the seven remaining schools conducted a conference call on their own, not sponsored by the league. They reassured each other that they are in it for the long haul. I had a great conversation with (new Chattanooga AD) David Blackburn and he said, ‘Don’t worry about us, this is where we want to be.’ So I do feel very good about our core seven. The No. 1 thing everyone is after is stability. If we add the three schools that we’ve visited, I think we’ll get that. That gives us a great nucleus of 10 that we could stay with for a couple of years.

Q: How soon can Mercer and ETSU play SoCon football?

A: The earliest I see Mercer playing football in the SoCon is 2014. For ETSU, we’re kind of leaning toward a full conference schedule in 2016. They will begin playing in 2015, but like Mercer, they’d like to have two full recruiting classes before starting league play. That way they avoid having to rely on junior college transfers. We want them to get their program off on the right foot academically and in terms of foundation.

Q: The league will collect $3 million in exit fees over the next couple of years from departing schools College of Charleston, Davidson, Elon, Georgia Southern and Appalachian State. What will that money be used for?

A: We are going to be working with a professional marketing company to help us in the rebranding of the league. I would like for us to go deep into the digital space with video streaming, where we can get football, basketball and baseball streamed through a central portal so fans can see their teams’ home games and away. We also want to expand our presence on linear TV, where we currently don’t any any inventory.

Q: With Davidson’s departure, what is the future of the basketball tournament in Asheville?

A: At our meetings, the Asheville sports commission will make a presentation asking us to extend the tournament there another three years. They have expressed a strong desire to keep the tournament in Asheville.

Q: What are your thoughts on Elon and Davidson being eligible for SoCon championships in 2013-14, their last year in the league? Other leagues have made departing members ineligible.

A: That topic is on our agenda. My approach is, we should allow them to compete for championships, but I don’t think we should allow them to host conference championships. I know allowing them to compete is not a feeling shared by all of our core seven, but that’s my recommendation.”


Brown hopes to make HiToms successful again

May 30, 2013

By: Jason Queen
The Dispatch

Published: Monday, May 27, 2013 at 11:06 p.m.

Last Modified: Monday, May 27, 2013 at 11:06 p.m.

THOMASVILLE | Zach Brown was an integral part of the 2006 HiToms squad that won the first Petitt Cup championship in team history.

The Coastal Plain League team, which plays its home games at Finch Field in Thomasville, hopes Brown can help revive the franchise to that status once again.

Brown, who graduated from The Citadel and now serves as an assistant coach at Furman, liked what he saw on a warm Memorial Day afternoon watching the team practice — the HiToms open the season at Forest City on Tuesday, then hold their home opener Wednesday against Asheboro. “I love Thomasville, I loved playing here,” Brown said. “And it wasn’t just because of the short porch in right.

“It was a packed house most nights, a good crowd, the community really got into it. From what I hear lately, that hasn’t been the case.”

The team’s success, since winning three straight league titles beginning with that 2006 season, has slipped slightly in recent years. The HiToms made the playoffs in 2011 but were eliminated in the first round, then finished 24-30 last season and did not qualify for the postseason.

“Hopefully, this team right here can bring those people back out,” Brown added. “It’s good for the town and it’s good for these kids if they mesh.

“I felt like I was a superstar here. Everybody knew you, the whole town would come out to watch, and that was what made it fun. If nobody’s here to watch you, it’s kind of hard to perform well.”

Brown and team president Greg Suire, along with assistant coaches Wilson Boyd (another former HiTom who played at Clemson) and Shelton Cisson (a teammate of Brown’s on the 2005 HiToms squad who is an assistant at his alma mater, Erskine College), have assembled what looks to be a squad that can return the HiToms to their glory days. Three of the biggest names on the team’s roster – outfielder Mike White, left fielder Coco Johnson and shortstop Sutton Whiting — are starters at Louisville. That means the HiToms will have to wait on the Cardinals to get knocked out of the NCAA tournament before they arrive. Louisville is set to host a regional this weekend, and could be playing a while.

Brown’s eyes also lit up when he talked about pitching prospect Hassan Evans, who just completed his freshman year at Herkimer Community College in New York. “I’m really excited about Hassan Evans, he’s a great athlete,” Brown said. “He’s got a big-time arm. They’ve had him up to 97, 98 (mph) on the bump, and he was a draft pick out of JuCo.

“He’s a center fielder who can really run, very physical. I think he’ll flourish in this league.”

Another player who hopes to flourish this summer is Ledford graduate Victor Zecca, who played at Finch Field a few summers as a member of the Post 87 American Legion team. Zecca has been at UNC Pembroke, but has seen much less action than he’d like. He hopes this summer he can re-ignite his career.

“As a kid I’d always come out here and watch them play,” Zecca said. “So, it’s been a thing for me, I’ve always wanted to come here to play.

“I haven’t played that much this year, but I played pretty good when I did play. I’m hoping I can prove this summer that I deserve to be out here and start.”

With seven members of the team coming from teams like Louisville, North Carolina and other teams who could be playing in the NCAA tournament for a while, Brown said now’s the time to shine for players like Zecca. “Now’s the time to show what you can do,” he said. “I’m not partial to big schools or little schools. I’m partial to guys who can produce and put up numbers, and help the team win.”

Ron Morris’ column : Money, fear key in breakup of Southern

May 29, 2013

 By Ron Morris    While in Greenville 

Published in The State (Columbia, SC) 5/25/13

When the Southern Conference baseball tournament concludes Sunday with the championship game at Flour Field, the league will remove the banners of each member school that ring the facade behind home plate.  It will be the last official act of the Southern Conference that we have come to know and love the past few decades. In another year, five SoCon members will be gone to other conferences and perhaps replaced by another five.  There is little doubting that the upheaval in the Southern Conference is the residual effect of the money grab called re-alignment among the NCAA’s five super conferences.  “In five or 10 years, there will probably be other commissioners and other administrators, but I do think people are going to say, ‘What exactly were we thinking about where geography is no longer the driver for conference memberships and rivalries are thrown out the window?’ ” said John Iamarino, in his eighth year as Southern Conference commissioner.  While conference shuffling has eliminated rivalries such as Missouri-Kansas at the highest level, it also has left long-time rivals Furman and Appalachian State no longer on each other’s schedule. College of Charleston and Davidson, one of the best mid-major rivalries in the country in men’s basketball, no longer will exist.  That is because College of Charleston is leaving this year for the Colonial Athletic Conference. So, too, is Elon in 2014. Davidson is taking off for the Atlantic 10 in 2014, and Appalachian State and Georgia Southern are bolting for the Sun Belt in 2014.What once was a proud and stable conference now is a shell of its former self, no longer able to boast of being the best of the mid-major leagues in many sports.  All the movement within the BCS-level conferences has everything to do with money. Those conferences need the mega-million dollar TV contracts to continue to feed the beast – which in nearly every case is football. In order to compete at that level, one family member must keep up with another in what appears to be an ever-escalating arms race.  At the FCS level, Iamarino believes there is one overriding factor that compels one school after another to jump conferences: fear.  “That fear is that we may be subject to an affiliation that isn’t what we want if other people leave,” Iamarino said.  Elon, Appalachian State and Georgia Southern all departed so they could compete in football at the FBS level, meaning they position themselves to generate more money for their athletics departments. College of Charleston and Davidson departed for men’s basketball, although both schools mentioned they want to better “brand” their institution in a different part of the country.  The latter reason sticks in Iamarino’s craw. “They want to brand the university or college as a school that recruits (students) in the northeast,” Iamarino said. “I understand that, and that’s well and good.“ But I think that’s sad that so much of this branding that presidents talk about is being done on the backs of student-athletes. Presidents are not climbing on an airplane at 6 in the morning to get back home, or stuck in an airport when they miss a flight trying to play a volleyball match in the northeast where it’s snowing.”  Now, instead of bus trips for conference games at The Citadel, Furman, Wofford, Davidson and UNC-Greensboro, College of Charleston will travel by airplane to such outposts as Philadelphia (Drexel), New York City (Hofstra) and Boston (Northeastern).Instead of continuing a long-standing tradition of playing a home-and-home set against The Citadel in all sports, College of Charleston will meet its cross-town rival once a year in all sports. “That’s disappointing, disappointing because it’s such a natural rivalry,” said Larry Leckonby, The Citadel’s athletics director. “Playing home and home with them would make a lot of sense. But they’ll be off traveling all over the country. ”So, the Southern Conference must accept that some of its most stable members are off to join the world of multi-million dollar coach’s contracts, playing games at any time of day or night as TV dictates and generally selling its collective soul for the almighty dollar. That does not mean the Southern Conference will sell out as well. Its athletics directors and presidents will meet this week in Hilton Head primarily to discuss the prospect of bringing in new members. Mercer, VMI and East Tennessee State appear to be viable options with Presbyterian and Coastal Carolina as possibilities. Iamarino is adamant that prospective members must meet certain criteria. First, the academic profile of the school is important to the conference. Second, the schools must be located within the current geographic boundaries of the conference. Third, the schools must be competitive in athletics.  It is the way it used to work in college athletics.

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Cortez Allen steps quietly into starting job at corner for Steelers

May 28, 2013
Cortez is now the Steelers starting corner

Cortez is now the Steelers starting corner


By Ed Bouchette / Pittsburgh Post-Gazette 

Published May 28, 2013 12:00 am


It became tradition after the first week of spring drills for the Steelers’ new starting cornerback to make bold predictions about himself, to forecast a Pro Bowl and great feats right away.

Keenan Lewis began that practice one year ago. Cortez Allen ended it Monday.

“I’m not that type to make predictions or boast about myself,” Allen said as the Steelers resumed practices Monday with their fourth of the spring. “I’m a very humble guy. I just come to work every day and try to get better and better so I can help my team the best I can.”

He plays a better game than he talks. That means he won’t have to try to back up the kind of bravado his predecessor issued precisely at the same time a year ago, after just three spring practices as the Steelers’ new starting cornerback paired with Ike Taylor.

“Pro Bowl,” Lewis predicted for himself a year ago. “Watch out, this is going to be a big year right here.”

Lewis did not make the Pro Bowl, but, in the overall scheme of things, after a slow start, he had a very good season as the Steelers’ new left cornerback. It was good enough for New Orleans to sign him to a five-year contract worth $26 million.

Somehow it was not good enough for the Steelers to make him an offer to stay around longer. The reason: Cortez Allen.

While Lewis was making bold predictions a year ago, Allen was giving him a run for his money in a competition to replace the departed William Gay as the starting left corner. Lewis won, and his play upheld that decision, but no one on that coaching staff is hanging his head because Allen now is their starter, along with Taylor.

Coincidentally, Gay has returned, and the three are likely to be on the field together in some passing situations when the Steelers use five or six defensive backs.

Allen moved into the slot in those situations a year ago, joining Lewis and Taylor. He might move back to the slot when Gay comes onto the field this year because of his size, which he describes as “6 [feet] 2 and change.”

“I don’t know if that will be a game-plan thing as far as matchups,” Allen said about moving into the slot. “Willie is where I learned a lot of it from, as well as Troy [Polamalu], Ryan [Clark] and Ike and others.”

All those others might learn a thing or two from Allen when it comes to pilfering the football. It’s been a large problem for a secondary that otherwise has been a reason the defense ranked No. 1 in the NFL in each of the past two seasons in fewest passing yards allowed.

The Steelers just don’t produce turnovers the way they used to. They managed 11 interceptions in 2011 and of their 10 in 2012 only six came from a defensive back. Allen, though, was a turnover machine after he moved into the starting lineup at right cornerback to replace the injured Taylor late in the year. In the final two games, Allen had two interceptions (tying Clark for the most in the secondary), three forced fumbles and one fumble recovery.

“I think I’ve shown an ability to make plays in the defensive system,” Allen said.

It’s the kind of production Dick LeBeau and secondary coach Carnell Lake hope to see proliferate everywhere in 2013, and maybe the new starter can show the way.

“Absolutely that can change, and I’m going to do my best to be a factor in that,” Allen declared in as close to a Keenan Lewis-like boast as anyone is likely to hear. “That’s always our goal. We finished No. 1 in the secondary two years in row, No. 1 as a defense two years in a row. We’d like to be No. 1 in every category.”

Toward that end, Lake and LeBeau had them working in practice last week on ways that might increase their football thievery.

“We’re working on it everyday, doing more ball drills, more emphasis on attacking the ball so we can do better in that category,” Allen said.

While Allen will move into the starting lineup to open the season just as Lewis did last year, there is a difference in the two situations. The timing for Lewis was perfect,, coming a year before his free agency as he played under a $1,260,000 tender as a restricted free agent. This is Allen’s third year, and he is under contract through 2014. One good season, and he likely will get that contract extension offer from the Steelers that never came Lewis’ way.

Still, it’s a long way from The Citadel, where Allen attended after just one season of high school football. The Citadel is a military factory more than a football machine, and Allen became only the 13th Bulldogs player drafted into the NFL, the third-highest chosen from the South Carolina college when the Steelers drafted him in the fourth round in 2011.

The Steelers drafted another cornerback in the third round — Curtis Brown from the more recognizable football hotbed, the University of Texas. It did not take long for Allen to surpass his draft classmate.

“Everybody had questions about what can I do as far as being from that type of league to facing opponents coming from I-A schools, the SEC, ACC, things like that,” Allen said. “Football is football, and it’s all about what you’re willing to do and what you’re willing to put into it. If you have a good foundation, good grounding, you can do anything.”

He’s ready to show how, without boasting about it.


For more on the Steelers, read the blog, Ed Bouchette on the Steelers at Ed Bouchette: and Twitter @EdBouchette.

Elon holds off Citadel rally for 6-5 victory in SoCon title game

May 27, 2013
SoCon Photos Citadel pitcher Austin Pritcher lasted just 2 & 2/3 innings against Elon in the Southern Conference tournament title game. Elon won, 6-5. 



By Jeff Hartsell: TheCharleston Post-Courier

GREENVILLE — A week of clutch home runs and spectacular catches built to this moment for The Citadel on Sunday afternoon.

Native son Joe Jackson, heir to this town’s own baseball legend, was at the plate with two on and two out in the eighth inning. His Bulldogs were down by one run to Elon in the Southern Conference championship game.

All Jackson had done to that point in the tournament was bang out 10 hits in 12 at-bats, reach base 18 of 19 times at the plate and win the first game with a ninth-inning home run. On Sunday, he was 3 for 3 with a double and a triple and two RBIs.

Citadel fans, who made up most of the 1,432 at Fluor Field, rose to their feet as Elon coach Mike Kennedy fretted in the dugout.

“He’s the best player in this league, by far, and we hadn’t gotten him out,” Kennedy said. “We didn’t want to walk him there, but we didn’t want to give him anything to square up either.”

Elon’s lefty reliever, Spencer Medick, started Jackson out with a curveball wide and a fastball for a strike, then threw four straight breaking balls. Jackson took all of them, the last one a bender on the outside corner for strike three.

Medick struck out three more in the ninth to seal Elon’s 6-5 win, but the Joe Jackson moment was the key to the Phoenix’s second SoCon tourney title and first since 2008.

“We know how dangerous Jackson is, he’s been electric in the tournament,” Medick said. “We didn’t want to give him anything to hit. He’s been seeing the ball real well, and I was surprised he didn’t take a hack at it. He’s a tough out.”

Jackson, the great-great-great nephew of “Shoeless” Joe Jackson, was disappointed he did not take a swing during the crucial at-bat.

“He just threw a really good pitch,” said Jackson, who hit .769 and reached base 18 of 20 times while becoming the first player from a losing team to win the tournament MVP award. “The curveballs before that were really sharp, and that last one kind of hung and fooled me a little bit. Not a great at-bat, but I’ve got to live with it.

“I’m definitely a little mad at myself that I didn’t get a swing. But he made a good pitch, and you’ve got to tip your cap.”

Third-seeded Elon (32-28) showed grit in becoming the first team since Furman in 1991 to win the SoCon tourney after losing the first game. The Phoenix trailed in every game, but won five straight to claim the automatic bid to the NCAA regionals.

Elon senior Kyle Webb, making his third appearance of the tourney, muffled the Bulldogs’ offense through six innings, leaving with a 6-2 lead. The Citadel’s own ace, SoCon pitcher of the year Austin Pritcher, worked on three days’ rest and got knocked around for six runs (five earned) in 22/3 innings.

“I felt I had my normal stuff,” Pritcher said. “But the ball was leaking over the plate a little bit and Elon took advantage of it.”

The Citadel’s defense, sparkling during the week, let Pritcher down Sunday. Third baseman Bailey Rush could not track down a two-out foul ball in the second, and Elon’s Sebastian Gomez cashed in with a two-run single for a 5-1 lead.

In the third, a wild throw by shortstop Johnathan Stokes helped Elon score an unearned run for a 6-1 edge.

Reliever Logan Cribb gave The Citadel a chance with 32/3 innings of scoreless ball, and the Bulldogs battled back. Tyler Griffin’s bloop double scored two in the fifth to make it 6-3, and an RBI triple by Jackson and an RBI double by Griffin cut it to 6-5 in the seventh.

But Citadel coach Fred Jordan was left to stare grimly at Elon’s celebration and ponder a season in which his team was picked to finish eighth and nearly won it all.

“It’s tough,” said Jordan, in his 22nd year. “But I can’t question this club at all, the year that they had. We were picked to finish anywhere from eighth to 10th in this league. We’re a young club, and hopefully we’ll be standing back out here again with those championship T-shirts on.”

Total attendance for the tournament was 8,810, including 1,432 for the title game.

Joe Jackson & Bo Thompson garner SoCon Tourney honors

May 26, 2013
Joe Jackson

Joe Jackson

Bo Thompson

Bo Thompson

Tyler Griffin

Tyler Griffin










Joe Jackson wins multiple honors 

Tyler Griffin, Joe Jackson and Bo Thompson were named to the Southern  Conference All-Tournament Baseball Team for 2013.  Griffin was an All Tourney outfielder, Jackson was the All Tourney catcher while Thompson was the All Tourney DH.

Joe Jackson,who hit .769,  had an on base percentage exceeding  .800 and played superior defense, also won the Walt Nadzak award for the Most Outstanding Player in the Southern Conference Tournament.  Jackson became the first player in tournament history from the losing team to win MOP honors.

While Griffin andThompson will return for the 2014 season, Joe Jackson’s return for his senior season is in doubt as he is expected to be drafted somewhere between the 3rd to 6th round  in the 2013 MajorLeague Baseball draft.

Story by: The Men from Romeo staff  from multiple sources

Bulldog Rally Falls Short

May 26, 2013
The Bulldogs accept the runner up trophy.

The Bulldogs accept the runner up trophy.


Greenville, S.C. – In a season and tournament in which Joe Jackson proved to be almost super human, he showed for a brief moment that he was indeed mortal.

Jackson took a Spencer Medick curveball for a called third strike to end the top of the eighth and The Citadel’s last real threat of the day, and the Elon left hander went on to strike out the side in the ninth to preserve a 6-5 Phoenix victory in the Southern Conference championship game Sunday at Fluor Field in Greenville.

The Bulldogs won their first three tournament games by a total of only four runs but fell short in another thriller in the single elimination championship game format. The Citadel finished with a record of 35-25 and lost in the title contest for only the fourth time in 11 appearances under head coach Fred Jordan.

Elon (32-28), which is leaving for the Colonial Athletic Association after next school year, won its second SoCon tournament and will represent the league in the NCAA tournament. The Phoenix will learn its destination when the field of 64 is announced on Monday.

The Bulldogs appeared poised to complete a comeback from an early 6-1 deficit when they scored twice in the fifth and two more in the seventh to pull within one run. With two out in the eighth, Mason Davis drew a walk and Hughston Armstrongsingled sharply through the right side to bring up the red-hot Jackson.

Before his eighth inning turn at the plate, the junior catcher had 10 hits in 12 official times at bat and had reached base in 18 of 19 opportunities. But Medick, one of Elon’s weekend starters pitching in relief of starter Tyler Webb on Sunday, snuck a 3-2 pitch past Jackson to leave the tying and lead runs on base.

Medick then made quick work of Bo ThompsonTyler Griffin and Drew DeKerlegand to pick up his first save of the year. Webb, who saved Saturday night’s elimination game against Georgia Southern, picked up the win after allowing nine hits and all five runs with five strikeouts in 6 1/3 innings.

Jackson was so good during the five-day tournament that he received the rare distinction of being named the Most Outstanding Player despite playing on the runner-up. He was joined on the all-tournament team by Griffin and Thompson.

Jackson finished what could be his final season at The Citadel with a batting average of .386, 19 doubles, 13 home runs and 67 RBI among other numbers that will rank among the best in a single season in school history. He increased his average a whopping 23 points in just four games during the tournament and no doubt raised his stock considerably for next month’s MLB Draft.

Austin Pritcher (8-3), working on three day’s rest for the first time this year, was only able to go 2 2/3 innings and 68 pitches. The senior right hander and 2013 SoCon Pitcher of the Year gave up eight hits and all six Elon runs (five earned), with a walk and three strikeouts in his final appearance in a Citadel uniform.

Logan Cribb turned in a terrific outing from The Citadel bullpen to keep the Bulldogs in the game. After throwing five innings in a second round victory over Western Carolina on Thursday, the junior left hander allowed only four hits and struck out four in 3 2/3 shutout innings as the Bulldogs mounted their rally.

With one out in the fifth, Armstrong drew a walk and Jackson singled. After Thompson popped out, Griffin dropped a double in front of a diving Casey Jones in left to drive in both runs and cut The Citadel deficit to 6-3. The Bulldogs had a chance for more runs in the inning, but DeKerlegand’s long two-out drive to center was run down by Sebastian Gomez.

Calvin Orth led off the sixth with a double, his third hit of the day, but was stranded at second. The Bulldogs got right back at it offensively the following inning when Armstrong singled to center and Jackson hit a scorcher to right that turned into his second triple of the season, scoring Armstrong to make it 6-4.

After Webb struck out Thompson, Elon turned to Medick to stem The Citadel’s momentum. It eventually happened, but not before Griffin took his first pitch to dead center for a double that brought home Jackson and make it a one-run game.

Medick retired the final two batters of the inning, and the combination of Cribb and Zach Sherrill set down the Phoenix in the bottom of the seventh to keep it a 6-5 game. Medick then proved too tough over the final two innings as Elon moved on to the postseason.

The Citadel got off to a quick start against Webb when Armstrong doubled down the left field line and Jackson followed with a two-base hit off the top of the Green Monster in the Fenway-replica Fluor Field. Thompson was hit by a pitch before Webb escaped further damage to limit it to a one-run inning.

Then the Phoenix bats took over. Ryan Kinsella, the co-player of the year in the SoCon, tripled in Alex Swim and Jones doubled in a run to give Elon a 2-1 lead after one. The Phoenix added a run with a bases loaded fielder’s choice in the second when Swim’s grounder to short was hit too slowly for The Citadel to turn a double play.

It looked like The Citadel would get out of the inning allowing only the single tally, but Bailey Rush could not come up with Kinsella’s foul popup at third to keep the inning alive. Kinsella eventually drew a walk, and Gomez made The Citadel pay when his single to right brought in two more runs to give Elon a 5-1 cushion.

An infield hit and throwing error followed by a Chris Bresnahan single off the monster made it 6-1 in the third and end Pritcher’s day. Cribb wriggled out of a two-on, one-out jam in the fourth before The Citadel began the comeback that fell just short.


The Citadel Advances to SoCon Title Game

May 25, 2013

by: the Southern Conference

posted 5/25/13

video available at

Box Score – PDF

Photo Gallery

GREENVILLE, S.C. – Center fielder Hughston Armstrong made a highlight-reel diving catch to start a game-ending double play as fourth-seeded The Citadel topped No. 5 seed Appalachian State 8-6 on Saturday in the Southern Conference Baseball Championship at Fluor Field. With the win, the Bulldogs advance to Sunday’s title game.

The Bulldogs (35-24) await either Elon or Georgia Southern in Sunday’s championship game, which will appear on ESPN3, as well as Time Warner Cable in select New York, New England and North Carolina markets. The game is at 2 p.m.

Appalachian State saw its season end with a 30-24 record.

With The Citadel holding a two-run lead and Appalachian State’s 4, 5 and 6 hitters coming up, the Bulldogs summoned freshman closer Skylar Hunter. Mountaineer cleanup hitter Michael Pierson greeted Hunter with sharp single to left center before Hunter struck out SoCon Freshman of the Year Jaylin Davis for the first out. Dillon Dobson then worked nine-pitch at-bat, fouling off three straight balls with the count full before sending a drive into the gap in right center.

Armstrong, who had been shading toward left field, covered the ground quickly, laying out for the full-extension grab before popping up and firing in to the infield to double Pierson off first and send the Bulldogs into the championship game.

Joe Jackson continued his torrid hitting pace at the tournament, as the Bulldogs’ junior catcher went 3-for-4 with a walk Saturday to actually drop his average to .778 in his three games so far. Jackson is 7-for-9 with a double, a home run and five walks at the SoCon tournament.

Mason Davis was 3-for-5 with two RBIs and three runs scored for The Citadel, which also got two-hit games from Armstrong and Bailey Rush.

Pierson paced the Mountaineers at the plate, going 3-for-5 with an RBI. Hector Crespo and Noah Holmes had two hits each.

The Citadel seemed poised to run away with the game early, bolting out to a 5-0 lead after two innings before Appalachian State responded.

Appalachian State starter Jeffrey Springs (3-4) didn’t make it out of the first inning, departing with three runs in and the bases loaded after needing 42 pitches to get two outs.

Davis led off the game with a home run over the Green Monster in left before Springs struck out Armstrong. Jackson singled to left, but Springs got another strikeout for the second out in the inning. The Citadel was far from done, however, as a pair of walks loaded the bases. Calvin Orth then stroked an RBI single to left ahead of Rush, who drew a walk of his own to force in another run and knock Springs from the game.

Taylor Thurber came in and needed just one pitch to stop the bleeding, getting a fly out to right center to leave the bases loaded.

The Citadel added two more runs in the second, leading off with three straight singles before a run came in on an error. Bo Thompson added an RBI single in the frame to make it 5-0.

The Mountaineers’ bats came to life in the third inning, with Hector Crespo drawing a two-out walk to get the rally started. Holmes followed with a single, and a double steal moved both runners into scoring position. Will Callaway then singled up the middle to drive in both runners.

Appalachian State drew within two runs in the fifth on Pierson’s RBI single, but The Citadel countered with two runs in the top of the sixth on an RBI single by Jackson and Tyler Griffin’s bases-loaded hit-by-pitch.

The Mountaineers responded again in the bottom half, getting a three-run homer from Josh Zumbrook to pull within a run at 7-6.

The Bulldogs added an insurance run in the seventh on an RBI groundout.

Citadel reliever James Reeves (3-1) was credited with the win after throwing 12/3 innings, allowing two hits and no runs. Hunter’s save was his 13th of the season and second of the tournament.

Citadel basketball signs two new players

May 24, 2013

by:Jeff Hartsell, The Charleston Post-Courier 5/18/13

Citadel basketball coach Chuck Driesell wrapped up recruiting for the 2013-14 freshman class with the signing of point

guard Warren Sledge and center Tom Koopman.

Sledge is a 6-3, 180-pounder from Central School in Keller, Texas, and Koopman is a 6-9, 220-pounder from Holland.

They join previous signees Brian White, a 6-6 guard from Richmond, Va., and Nate Bowser, a 6-9 forward from Fort Worth, Texas.

Sledge played for his father, Gerald, at Central High School and then played a year at Future Prep Academy in California. He also had offers from Houston Baptist and Coastal Carolina.

“As a coach’s son, he has a really nice feel for the game,” Driesell said of Sledge, who averaged 9.2 points and 8.2 assists in prep school.

“He’s really, really solid in his decision making and his court vision. We think he’ll do a really nice job for us.”

Gerald Sledge, who served 12 years in the U.S. Army, said his son likes the structure of a military school.

“On his visit, he really enjoyed the camaraderie with the people at The Citadel,” the elder Sledge said. “And his visit was thorough and left nothing to question. He knows exactly what he’s getting into, and that structure is important to him and I think will serve the team well.”

Koopman has played for the under-19 and U-20 national teams in Holland, Driesell said, averaging about 18 points and 12 rebounds last season.

“He’s a European big man, very skilled,” Driesell said. “We really liked what we saw with him, and think he can come in and help right away.”

In addition to all-Southern Conference senior center Mike Groselle, the Bulldogs are losing three other players from last year’s 8-22 team.

Sophomores Lawrence Miller and Michael Hundley and freshman guard Janeil Jenkins are transferring, Driesell said.

Miller played in 16 games and averaged 6.1 points last year, while the 6-9 Hundley played in just eight games. Jenkins, a 5-10 guard, played in 30 games, averaging 9.1 minutes and 2.5 points.

SoCon Tourney, Weekend schedule

May 24, 2013

Friday, May 24
(Fluor Field, Greenville, S.C.)
Game 9: #1 Western Carolina vs. #5 Appalachian State, 3 p.m.
Game 10: #6 Furman vs. #3 Elon, 7 p.m.

Saturday, May 25
(Fluor Field, Greenville, S.C.)
Game 11: #4 The Citadel vs. Winner Game 9, 10 a.m.
Game 12: #7 Georgia Southern vs. Winner Game 10, 1:30 p.m.
^Game 13: Loser Game 11 vs. Winner Game 11, 5 p.m.
^Game 14: Loser Game 12 vs. Winner Game 12, 8:30 p.m.

Sunday, May 26
(Fluor Field, Greenville, S.C.)
Game 15: Championship game (ESPN3), 2 p.m.

All times Eastern
^ If necessary. If Game 13 is not necessary, Game 14 will begin approximately 40 minutes after the conclusion of Game 12.