April 29, 2012
Cullowhee, N.C. - College of Charleston's pitching staff slowed the potent Western Carolina offense on Sunday afternoon as the Cougars claimed the series rubber match with a 6-2 victory over the Catamounts at Childress Field / Hennon Stadium. WCU surrendered three runs in the top of the ninth inning as the Cougars expanded its 3-1 lead entering the final frame to claim its third-straight SoCon series victory.
All told, the Catamounts were limited to just two runs on seven singles, stranding a combined 11 base runners in dropping the series finale.
History was matched on Sunday, though, as senior Ross Heffley reached on an infield single up the middle in the sixth inning to move into a tie with former Catamount Barrett Shaft (2005-08) with 336 career base hits. He also moved into a tie for fifth-place in the SoCon record books with Shaft for career hits.
Heffley finished 1-for-4 with a walk and a strikeout, finishing a team-best 6-of-13 on the weekend.
CofC (31-13, 19-8 SoCon) remained in second place in the conference standings behind Appalachian State, while the Catamounts (27-17, 11-10 SoCon) remained in a two-way tie with Georgia Southern for fifth in the standings as both squads dropped their weekend league series, two games to one.
Sunday's series finale had the makings of a pitcher's duel for most of the afternoon. Catamount freshman starter Jeremy Null (4-2), who took the loss, matched his career-high with eight strikeouts through six innings. The Claremont, N.C., native worked around two walks while allowing three runs on six hits. Cougar starter Matt Pegler (7-2) limited WCU to one run on just three hits through five and a third innings to pick up the victory. CofC's bullpen was equally as impressive, holding off any thought of a Catamount rally in the latter innings.
Null recorded at least one strikeout in each of the first four frames, posting all eight K's before the end of the fourth inning.
Pegler struck out six while walking two, giving way to reliever Jake Zokan in the sixth inning. Zokan and reliever Kyle Owings held the Catamounts off the board while allowing three hits through two and two thirds innings with closer David Peterson giving up an unearned run on one hit with a pair of walks and two strikeouts in an inning of work in the ninth.
WCU closer Preston Hatcher also threw three innings, giving up three unearned runs in three innings with a pair of strikeouts.
After a 0-for-2 start to the day, sophomore Cody Jones finished with three singles for a game-best 3-for-5 showing at the plate. Pinch hitters Bryant Noteboom and Dale Urquhart Jr., both collected singles, with the remaining two hits coming from Heffley and Tyler White.
Charleston took the early advantage with two solo runs in the top of the first and second innings. The Cougar DH, Tyler Jackson - who homered in a pinch hit role on Saturday afternoon - belted his second long ball of the series on a solo round-tripper that hugged the right field foul line in the top of the first for the 1-0 lead.
In the second, Brandon Glazer reached on a single to centerfield where the ball was misplayed allowing him to arrive into second safely. Two batters later, catcher Jimmy Holton collected his first hit of the series with a two-out, RBI single to left to push the Cougars ahead, 2-0.
Having registered just four base runners through the first five frames, Western Carolina began to show life in the sixth. Heffley bounced one up the middle for his record-tying hit, with Jones driving a single to center to put two aboard. White sacrificed the runners into scoring position, chasing the starter Pegler. The next batter, Jacob Hoyle, bounced one to first base that drove in Heffley from third for the first run, but also put the second out on the board. Julian Ridings then grounded out to third base to end the inning.
Charleston got the run back half an inning later by scoring one in the top of the seventh to regain its two-run cushion heading into the top of the ninth. There, the Cougars managed three runs on just one hit with a costly throwing error adding to the struggles for WCU. A single and an HBP put two on with no outs before the error on a would-be force play at third on an attempted sacrifice bunt scored two runs. A sacrifice fly by Gunnar Heidt plated the third run, handing CofC a 6-1 lead.
Down to its final three outs, pinch hitter Luke Gragg drew a lead-off walk to put a man aboard. Following back-to-back strikeouts, Aaron Attaway reached on a fielding error up the middle to bring Heffley to the dish with two aboard. The senior from Snellville, Ga., drew a six-pitch walk to load the bases where Jones hit a grounder up the middle to plate one, 6-2. Peterson then got White to bounce out to first base unassisted to end the game.
Western Carolina hits the road for six-straight games in league play over the next two weeks. The Catamounts visit Elon for a Saturday through Monday, three-game SoCon series May 5-7, before traveling to Statesboro, Ga., for a three-game set against the Eagles, May 11-13.