CHARLESTON, S.C. - College of Charleston scored four runs in the seventh inning to tie the game, but Xavier scored the game-winning run in the top of the ninth inning to win the second game of the series, 6-5.
College of Charleston (1-1) nearly won in dramatic fashion for the second straight day, but Xavier's (1-1) Vinny Nittoli pushed a single through the left side that scored the game-winning run with two outs in the ninth inning.
The Cougars Michael Hanzlik (1-1) allowed the loss just a day after earning his first career win in a Cougar uniform. Xavier's Scott Klever (1-0) earned the win for the Musketeers, despite allowing three runs on five hits in the seventh and eighth innings. Alex Vice (1) came to earn the save, working around a two-out double from Jimmy Holton by striking out the side.
Senior starter Jake Zokan tallied a career-high eight strikeouts in the no decision, pitching 4.1 innings and giving up four runs, two earned, on seven hits.
The Musketeers tallied 12 hits in the game, including three from Nittoli and Brian Bruening. Both teams battled cold wind and steady rain throughout most of the contest as Charleston committed three errors.
Xavier jumped out to a 5-1 lead with a three-run fifth inning, capped by a single by a Patrick Paligraf and a throwing error that allowed two runs to score.
The Cougars came roaring back in the seventh inning, loading the bases with none out for Bradley Goodson. The senior scored the first run with a sacrifice fly to right field, scoring Brandon Murray. Ryan Welke kept the run going with an RBI single, and Cody Martin tied the game with a two-out, two-RBI hit to center field.
Senior Drew Freie picked up his fifth strikeout in relief in the eighth inning and Hanzlik came in to record the third out. However, College of Charleston went down in order in the bottom of the eighth, setting up Xavier's ninth-inning rally.
The Cougars put two on in the top of the ninth with a walk and hit batter, and Xavier nearly took the lead on a single from Bruening, but Cougar right-fielder Brandon Glazer gunned down pinch-runner Michael Moore to preserve the tie game. The Cougars nearly turned a double play to get out of the inning, however Derek Hasenbeck beat the throw to first, setting up Nittoli's game-winning single with two outs.
College of Charleston and Xavier will play the rubber game of the series on Sunday, February 17 at 1 p.m. at Patriots Point. CofC freshman Nathan Helvey will go against Xavier's Tyler Koors.