Bulldog Baseball: revisiting the Battle of 1714

I just wanted to make a quick post about Saturday’s game between The Citadel and the College of Charleston, which struck me as a game deserving of a closer look. The Elias Sports Bureau won’t be providing any statistical minutiae, but I’ll channel my inner Jayson Stark anyway and list a few “nuggets”…

Saturday’s game was the second of a three-game series between the two schools. The Citadel won the opener, 6-2, behind a fine complete-game effort by Matt Talley, while the College of Charleston would win the third game, breaking out to a 10-0 lead before hanging on for a 10-5 victory.

Saturday’s final:  The Citadel 17, College of Charleston 14.  The score doesn’t begin to tell the story:

  • Nine pitchers (five for The Citadel, four for the CofC)  combined to throw 362 pitches — and The Citadel didn’t come to bat in the bottom of the ninth.
  • Eight of the CofC’s nine batters had multi-hit games (the Cougars used no pinch-hitters, not that they needed any).
  • The only Cougar who didn’t get at least two hits was the #9 batter, catcher Robert Pritcher; however, his one hit was a two-run homer that gave the CofC a 6-4 lead in the 5th inning.
  • That home run was one of three plate appearances for Robert Pritcher in which he faced The Citadel’s starting pitcher, sophomore Austin Pritcher.  The two are brothers.  Robert Pritcher also walked and struck out against his younger sibling, but the homer clearly carried the day in the family matchup.

The lesson, as always:  older brothers rule.

  • That strikeout in Pritcher v. Pritcher, by the way, was one of only three times a Cougar batter struck out in the game, and the only one of those that was swinging.
  • With 23 hits, the CofC had a batting average of .489 for the game.  Bulldog batters “only” batted .395 as a group.
  • The Cougars sent 56 batters to the plate during the course of the game.  On 34 of those occasions, the batter reached first base (23 hits, 7 walks, 1 HBP, and 3 runners reached via an error).
  • T.J. Clarkson had an ERA of 3.00 through his first 17 appearances of the season.  His ERA went up to 4.21 after pitching on Saturday.  Ouch.
  • After scoring six runs in the 5th inning, the CofC probably thought it had an insurmountable 12-5 lead, given that The Citadel entered the game 0-12 in contests when its opponent had scored six or more runs.

And yet, The Citadel won this game.  Somehow.

  • Each team had 23 at bats with runners in scoring position.  The Citadel was 9-23 with RISP, but the Cougars were only 4-23 and left 15 men on base (the Bulldogs had just 6 LOB).
  • Clutchness:  the Bulldogs scored 11 of their 17 runs with two outs, including all five runs in the seventh inning.  Nick Orvin’s three-run double in the eighth, which proved to be the game-winner, also came with two outs.
  • Orvin was 5-5 at the plate (with three doubles), drove in five runs, scored twice, and walked once.  I guess that’s a pretty good day for a leadoff hitter.
  • Matt Simonelli had both a sacrifice bunt and a sac fly in the game — and on both occasions, he reached base after Cougar errors.
  • The BABIP and defensive efficiency (or lack thereof) numbers for this game were, uh, horrendous…

The Citadel’s pitchers had a combined BABIP (batting average on balls in play) of .560 in this contest, which is much worse than even the below-par .370 number for the team entering the series against the College of Charleston.  As I noted earlier, this is often a reflection of defense (and sometimes luck).

The Citadel had a mind-numbing defensive efficiency rating (DER) of .463 for the game; in other words, only 46% of balls put into play were turned into outs.  (The average D-1 squad this season is turning about 65% of balls put into play into outs.)

However, the College of Charleston’s defensive numbers were even worse, as Cougar pitchers had a combined .577 BABIP.  The team DER on Saturday was .449; by comparison, the DER in the Cougars’ 24-4 loss at South Carolina was a much more respectable .590 (the team pitching BABIP that day, incidentally, was .556).

It remains to be seen if this game might help The Citadel recover from a bad start to the season.  It didn’t seem to matter much on Sunday, but winning the series against the CofC might prove to give the team a much-needed confidence boost going forward.  The bats seem to be coming around, at any rate.  Grabbing a spot in the eight-team Southern Conference tournament becomes the goal for the rest of the regular season.

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