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June 4, 2010

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The Citadel Post-Game Press Conference
Virginia Tech Post-Game Press Conference

COLUMBIA, S.C. – The Citadel used a four-run second inning and consistent hitting throughout its lineup to defeat Virginia Tech 7-2 in the opening game of the NCAA Baseball Columbia Regional. The Bulldogs picked up their 13th consecutive win in front of 5,075 fans on a muggy Friday afternoon at Carolina Stadium.

All nine starters for The Citadel (43-20) had at least one hit in the contest as the Bulldogs combined to pound out 13 on the day. Virginia Tech (38-21) saw numerous scoring opportunities go by the wayside as the Hokies stranded nine runners in the game, including six in scoring position.

With the victory, The Citadel extended its winning streak to 13 games, the longest active skein in the nation, dating back to a victory over USC Upstate on May 12. Virginia Tech, making its first NCAA Tournament appearance since 2000, lost for the fourth straight time in regional play. The Hokies will face an elimination game Saturday against the loser of South Carolina and Bucknell while the Bulldogs will meet the winner of Friday night’s contest in a winner’s bracket game Saturday evening.

Bulldog lefthander Matt Talley (8-3) picked up the win, giving up just two runs on eight hits while striking out three in seven innings of work. He did not walk a batter in the game, the first time this season for Talley to accomplish that feat. Virginia Tech junior Justin Wright (8-5) was charged with the loss after giving up six runs – all earned – on 10 hits; however, all the damage came in the second and sixth innings as he racked up six strikeouts against just one walk.

Bryan Altman led the way for the Bulldogs with a 3-4 effort, including a double and one RBI. First baseman Justin Mackert had a pair of hits and scored two runs, and designated hitter Brad Felder went 2-5 with a pair of singles. For Virginia Tech, right fielder Austin Wates had a 3-4 afternoon, as did third baseman Tony Balisteri. Three other Hokies had one hit apiece.

The Citadel combined small-ball and the big blast to jump out to an early lead in the second. Altman, the Bulldogs’ leader in extra-base hits, recorded his 16th double of the year to lead off the second inning for the first hit of the game. A single through the right side by Justin Mackert put runners at the corners with no one out, then a perfectly-executed squeeze bunt by Kyle Jordan brought home Altman to put the Bulldogs ahead 1-0. Two pitches later, David Greene hit his seventh home run of the year over the right-field wall to bring in a pair of runs and give the Bulldogs the three-run advantage. After another pair of Bulldogs reached on a walk and a bloop single, a Virginia Tech fielding miscue on a pop fly from Nick Orvin led to Grant Richards scoring from third to make it 4-0 with still just one out. But three pitches later, a double play ball would end the inning.

Virginia Tech was unable to take advantage of scoring opportunities in the fourth and fifth innings. Steve Domecus and Austin Wates led off the fourth with back-to-back singles, and a flyout to the deepest part of the park allowed both runners to advance to second and third with one out. They would be stranded there, however, as a weak line drive and a groundout ended the threat to keep the Hokies off the board. An inning later, Buddy Sosnoskie and Tony Balisteri led off with a pair of singles to bring up the top of the Hokie lineup, but a strikeout, a flyout and a fielder’s choice grounder again thwarted the Tech threat.

The Citadel had their own missed opportunities. The Bulldogs started a two-out rally in the fifth as Brad Felder and Matt Simonelli put together back-to-back singles to bring up Altman, who was 2-for-2 at that point. He laced one into the gap in right-center, but a spectacular, diving catch by Tech center fielder Sean Ryan saved two certain runs and kept the Hokies within striking distance.

But the Bulldogs would make up for it in the sixth. Leadoff singles from Mackert and Jordan and a sacrifice bunt by Greene brought up Grant Richards, who laced a base hit into left center to bring in a pair of runs, giving The Citadel a 6-0 lead and chasing Wright after 5.1 innings of work. The Citadel would add another in the seventh as Nick Orvin led off with a single, advanced on a wild pitch then moved to third on a strikeout/wild pitch to Felder, putting runners at the corners with no one out. After a groundout from Simonelli, Altman notched his third hit of the day to bring home Orvin and make it 7-0.

Tech’s Sean Ryan would make sure that The Citadel would not post its fifth shutout of the year as he blasted a two-run homer into the Bulldog bullpen in the seventh, bringing home Tony Balisteri to put the Hokies on the board at 7-2. But the Hokies would squander another scoring chance in the eighth, leaving the bases loaded as Citadel reliever Raymond Copenhaver fought his way out of the jam. Copenhaver then shut down the Hokies in the ninth, including a pair of flyouts and a groundout to end the ballgame.