Cougars take series over No. 12 UNC
Last week's winter storm gave the College of Charleston baseball team a big opportunity. A couple young pitchers, some clutch defense and few big at-bats helped the Cougars make the most of that opportunity.
College of Charleston knocked off No. 17 North Carolina, 3-1, Monday to take two of three in the season-opening series in Mount Pleasant. The wins mark the highest-ranked team the Cougars have ever defeated in a weekend series.
Originally scheduled to be played in Chapel Hill, N.C., the series moved to Patriots Point because of wintry conditions. The Cougars took advantage, picking up a 7-4 win in the season opener Saturday, along with Monday's rubber match.
“I'm really proud of our guys,” Cougars head coach Monte Lee said. “Our guys competed and did a nice job.
“Obviously, we hope its' a confidence booster. We didn't know what to expect out of such a young pitching staff … and I thought they did a very nice job.”
Freshman right-hander Bailey Ober picked up the win Saturday in his first collegiate appearance, while sophomore lefty Eric Bauer earned the win Monday in his first collegiate start. The two combined to pitch 11 innings, allow seven hits, one earned run with five strikeouts and three walks through their two wins.
Ober entered in the fifth inning Saturday with the Cougars trailing 4-0. He retired 13 straight batters, allowing his only two hits in the ninth inning. The Cougars rang up five runs in the bottom of the sixth, including a three-run shot over the right-field wall from Brandon Glazer.
The Cougars defense set the tone Monday. In the top of the fourth, Brandon Murray started a relay from the wall in left field to throw out the runner at the plate and end the frame. In the sixth, the Cougars converted a 9-3 double play with the bases loaded to get out of the jam. UNC threatened with the bases load again in the eighth before the Cougars shut it down with a 4-6-3 double play.
“Things like that are just big,” Lee said. “We were able to make some really good plays that saved us, and I was just proud of that.”
Nick Pappas tied the game in the fifth with his first career hit, scoring Ryan Welke from third. Gunnar Heidt gave the Cougars the lead in the following at-bat with an RBI single to score Blake Butler. Ben Boykin added an insurance run in the eighth and freshman right-hander Hayden McCutcheon sealed the win, forcing a 3-6-3 double play and a strikeout in the ninth.
“I'll enjoy this series win for the next few hours … and get ready for Charleston Southern. It's the next game on the schedule and that's all we can worry about right now. It's a process. We have to be process oriented.”
The Cougars host Charleston Southern 4 p.m. Wednesday at Patriots Point.