CHARLESTON, S.C. — William Kinney drew a bases-loaded walk in the bottom of the tenth, allowing Citadel to steal a victory away from visiting Dartmouth at Joseph P. Riley Jr. Park on Saturday afternoon by a final of 8-7. Kinney finished the game 3-for-5 with two RBIs to lead the Bulldogs (7-11), while the Big Green (5-4) suffered their second straight loss.
The walk-off free pass was the 10th of the game issued (two intentional) by five Big Green pitchers, the most in nine years nearly to the day. The Dartmouth pitching staff entered the game having doled out just 1.59 walks per nine innings, leading all of Division I. And in each of the last four frames, The Citadel leadoff batter drew a walk, then came around to score.
Junior right-hander Patrick Peterson (0-2) took over on the mound to start the 10th and walked Adam Martin on five pitches. Taylor Cothran, who joined Kinney with three hits, nearly ended the game right there, doubling off the scoreboard in left field, sending Martin to third. Peterson got behind 3-1 to the next batter before fighting back for a strikeout. But after intentionally walking a left-handed hitter to set up a force at the plate, Kinney watched a 3-1 pitch sail wide of the plate to end the game.
Dartmouth had not trailed the entire game, though the Citadel managed to rally and tie the score four times. With the score tied at six in the top of the ninth, junior Kyle Holbrook delivered his second RBI single of the game, scoring pinch hitter Justin Fowler, who had led things off with a sinking double to left.
The Bulldogs’ patience paid off in the ninth as Ben Peden battled back from an 0-2 count to get a walk. A wild pitch proved to be unnecessary when Kinney tripled off the top of the fence in left, putting the winning run 90 feet from the plate with nobody out. But senior Chris Burkholder wriggled out of the jam with a strikeout, an intentional walk, a foul pop to the catcher and another punchout.
The teams traded runs in the second to begin the scoring on the afternoon. Holbrook walked to lead off the top half of the frame for the Big Green, scurried to third on the next pitch when sophomore Mike Brown singled between first and second, and just beat the tag at the plate on a fly to center off the bat of sophomore Nate Ostmo.
The Citadel countered in the bottom half when Kinney singled, stole second with two outs and scored on a Joe Sabatini bloop single over the second baseman’s head. Dartmouth starter Jackson Bubala avoided more damage after the Bulldogs loaded the bases, getting the third out on a force at second.
Sophomore Matt Feinstein started the third for the Green with a base hit, advanced to second on a balk, then crossed the plate when senior Michael Ketchmark lined a double down the line in left. A wild pitch and a walk put runners on the corners before Brown singled again, this time bringing home Ketchmark and sending Citadel starter Jordan Buster to the showers. Freshman Michael Calamari greeted reliever Beau Strickland by shooting a single to left, and although Brown was tagged out trying to take third, he avoided the tag long enough to allow Holbrook to score from second for a 4-1 lead.
It took another inning for the Bulldogs to answer in kind, starting with three consecutive one-out singles to plate a run. Bubala got the second out on strikes, but a walk and a two-run single by Cothran knotted the game at four apiece and ended Bubala’s afternoon. Junior reliever Sam Fichthorn got some help from his defense to preserve the tie as Ostmo made a nice back-handed play in the hole at short and made the long throw to first on a hop to get the third out.
A Bulldog error to start the fifth helped Dartmouth reclaim the lead. Ketchmark and Holbrook both singled with one down to bring home freshman Blake Crossing, and Brown followed with a sacrifice fly to left to put the Big Green back on top, 6-4.
Fichthorn escaped a one-out jam in the fifth, stranding runners at second and third, then threw a perfect sixth and departed after issuing a leadoff walk in the seventh. Junior reliever Marc Bachman got two quick outs, both of which advanced the runner, but Brett Charpia hit a tough chopper to third that could not be handled for an error, closing the gap to one.
Burkholder, who had gotten the final out in the seventh, walked Bryce Leasure to start the eighth. Pinch runner Sy Phillips took second on a sacrifice bunt, but Burkholder won a 10-pitch at-bat with leadoff hitter Clay Martin, catching him looking at the third strike for the second out. Cothran then jumped on the first pitch and kept it just fair inside third base for a game-tying double, setting up the fateful final innings.
Aaron Lesiak (3-0) earned the victory by pitching a scoreless 10th, leaving the go-ahead run stranded at second. Buster surrendered four runs in just 2.2 innings, while the bullpen surrendered just one earned run over 7.1 stanzas. Cothran led the Bulldog offense that collected a dozen hits with three RBIs.
Ketchmark reached four times on a double, two singles and a walk while scoring twice and driving in a run. Feinstein, Holbrook and Brown each had two hits with the latter two also collecting two RBIs.
Dartmouth will attempt to salvage a four-game series split with the finale tomorrow at 1 p.m. Senior Michael Danielak (2-0, 0.00) is scheduled to pitch for the Big Green, while The Citadel starter is to be announced. Fans can watch live online via the SoCon Digital Network.
Notes: The last game with at least 10 walks issued by the Dartmouth staff was against Army on March 21, 2008. Despite 11 walks (and the Black Knight second baseman hitting for the cycle), the Big Green won the wild affair, 19-18 ... Feinstein has hit safely in eight of the nine games this year with six multi-hit outings and a .405 average ... Ketchmark has reached base in all nine games and has a modest five-game hitting streak ... all four Dartmouth defeats have been by one run.