Charleston, S.C. - Tyler Griffin celebrated his return to the lineup by clouting two of The Citadel's six home runs, leading the Bulldogs to a 21-6 victory at Charleston Southern in their final non-conference game of the season.
The Citadel will take a 31-22 record into its final Southern Conference series of the year at UNC Greensboro beginning Thursday at 6 p.m. The Bulldogs need to win two of three against the Spartans to clinch the number two seed in the SoCon tournament, which gets underway May 22 at Fluor Field in Greenville.
The six home runs tied the school record which had been done twice before against Marshall on March 22, 1997 and East Carolina two days later. The 21 runs fell one shy of The Citadel's season high of 22 against Davidson 11 days ago.
Griffin missed the past 18 games since suffering a fractured foot at South Carolina on April 9 but returned with a vengeance. After getting hit by a pitch in his first at bat, he singled in two runs in the second, hit a solo homer leading off the fifth and added a two-run shot in the seventh to give him five RBI on the night to tie his career high.
It was Griffin's second multi-homer game of the season, adding to his three round trippers against North Florida in late February. He has 10 on the year to join Bo Thompson (13) and Joe Jackson (11) with double digits in that department.
Thompson added to his home run total with a grand slam in the fifth and also matched his career high with five RBI. Jason Smith entered the game as a pinch hitter in the fifth and went 3-for-3 including his first career home run, a three-run shot which was followed by a solo clout by Mason Davis in the sixth.
Smith drove in four runs and Davis established a career best with four runs scored while also stealing two bases to increase his team-leading total to 21.
Drew DeKerlegand got the home run derby started when he hit a three-run blast to cap a five-run top of the first for The Citadel. Joe Jackson tripled in a run and scored on a Thompson double as the Bulldogs hit for the cycle in the inning.
Charleston Southern (21-30) battled back for three in its half of the first, highlighted by a bases loaded double by Robbie Streett past a diving Calvin Orth inside the line at third. But the Buccaneers could not match the offensive fireworks put on by The Citadel, which scored twice in the second and seven in the fifth to blow the game open at 14-3.
The Bulldogs finished with 19 hits against eight Charleston Southern pitchers. The Citadel used seven hurlers with the win going to Kevin Connell, who allowed four hits and one run with one strikeout while working the fourth and fifth innings.