Wednesday’s game will be played at TicketReturn.com Field at Pelicans Park in Myrtle Beach, S.C., rather than on CCU’s campus in Conway, S.C.
The Cougars hit the road after a successful weekend at home, winning the series against the hot-hitting UNCG with a late-inning comeback victory in Sunday’s rubber game. Charleston overcame a 2-1 ninth inning deficit with a triple from Carl Wise who scored on a wild pitch. CofC then walked it off in the tenth inning after a double from Alex Pastorius and game-winning single from Gunnar Heidt.
The first two games of the series were polar opposites, with UNCG winning a 12-0 shutout on Friday night before Charleston won big, 11-3, on Saturday night. Freshman Nathan Helvey recorded his fifth quality start and fourth win of the season in Saturday’s win, while senior Ryan West did well in his start on Sunday, allowing just one run.
Wednesday’s game will be aired on ESPN 910 AM locally and through the TuneIn Radio app. “Voice of the Cougars” Jeff McCarragher will have the play-by-play call.
PROBABLE STARTING PITCHERS
Wednesday RHP #33 Tyler Poole CCU 4-1, 3.90 ERA, 30.0 IP, 7 BB, 20 K
LHP #30 Jake Zokan CofC 1-1, 2.78 ERA, 35.2 IP, 6 BB, 38 K
SERIES VS. COASTAL CAROLINA
The rivalry series with Coastal Carolina is nearly even with the Chanticleers holding a slight 16-15 advantage all-time. Last season, the two teams split the home-and-home with the Cougars winning on a walk-off, 11th-inning single from Daniel Aldrich. The most memorable matchups came in 2010 when the Cougars defeated host Coastal Carolina in the NCAA Myrtle Beach Regional, before the Chanticleers turned around and won two controversial elimination games with one-run wins. That series was the last time that College of Charleston has played in the Pelicans Ballpark.
SCOUTING THE CHANTICLEERS
Coastal Carolina enters Wednesday on a five-game winning streak after sweeping a midweek double dose with The Citadel and sweeping Liberty over the weekend. The Chanticleers average 5.1 runs per game with a staff ERA of 3.03.
Ted Blackman leads CCU with a .323 average and 29 runs scored. Jacob May has nine double and three homers for a team-leading .509 slugging percentage.
NEW YEAR, SAME ERA
College of Charleston surprised many with its dominating pitching staff which led the SoCon in multiple categories in 2012. With five pitchers of that staff departed, including four to the minor leagues, some expected 2013 to be a rebuilding year for CofC pitching. However, this season the Cougars lead the conference with a staff ERA of 3.93. They are first in opposing batting average (.254), second in strikeout-to-walk ratio (2.28) and second in walks allowed (99).
COFC STARTERS ARE QUALITY
College of Charleston’s weekend starters (Matt Pegler, Jake Zokan and Nathan Helvey) have combined for 12 quality starts this season. Helvey accounts for five of those quality starts as he now leads the team with a 2.68 ERA as a freshman. Helvey has only allowed one run in the last 14 innings that he’s pitched.
NOW PAGING DR. DRE
Senior Dre Watts battled injury in the first month of the season, but has reemerged as the Cougars go-to closer in late-game situations. Watts had a 2.1-inning save against Appalachian State, and finished a losing effort against South Carolina without allowing a hit in the eighth and ninth innings. He went into the 11th inning to earn his second win of the season at Samford. Watts now has a 3-0 record and 1.86 ERA with three saves and 24 strikeouts in just 19.1 innings.
HEIDT NOT SOPHOMORE SLUMPING
Sophomore shortstop Gunnar Heidt, one of only two true sophomores on the roster, has been an important returner for the Cougars infield and batting lineup. He was recently named the SoCon Player of the Month for March.
Heidt has a .333 batting average with 26 runs scored and a SoCon-high five triples, which currently ties him for second nationally. He has a .537 slugging percentage with a team-high 28 RBIs. Heidt knocked his first walk-off hit of his career in the 10th inning against UNCG, winning that game 3-2.
MURRAY FINDING HIS GROOVE
Brandon Murray started the season with big expectations after leading the team in home runs last season, but his preseason accolades did not translate to on-field production during the first month. However, Murray has begun to find a groove as he has hit .460 since the WCU series with 12 RBI and a .680 slugging percentage.
At Samford, he hit .667 with seven RBI and a 1.167 slugging mark, blasting a double and scoring a game-winning run, hitting a three-run triple to cap a 11-0 comeback after falling behind 6-2, and hitting his team-best third home run.
BABY GOT BOYK
Junior transfer Ben Boykin has made the most of his opportunities at the plate this season. Boykin leads the team with a .337 batting average and a .551 slugging percentage. He leads the team with 10 doubles and has become the team’s power-hitting designated hitter. He drove in the winning run in the 11th inning at Samford and came home to score an insurance run on a safety squeeze. He hit his third homer of the season against UNCG.
TRUE FRESHMEN STEPPING UP
College of Charleston coach Monte Lee has inserted freshmen Blake Butler and Alex Pastorius into the everyday starting lineup and both players have answered the call early in their CofC careers. Butler has a .395 on-base percentage with 20 walks and 20 runs. He had a big weekend at Samford, hitting .455 with his first career triple, after moving from leadoff to the middle of the lineup.
Pastorius ranks fourth on the team with a .292 batting average and has scored 23 runs with 14 RBI. He responded well after being named the leadoff batter at Samford, hitting .583 with seven runs and a .722 on-base percentage.
Freshman reserve Carl Wise has seen several spot starts and already has two home runs and a slugging percentage of .429. He hit a ninth-inning triple and came home to score to allow CofC to eventually beat UNCG in extra innings.
GO AHEAD...HIT ME
CofC senior Tyler Jackson has not found the same power (0 HRs) that he showed last year as the team’s first baseman. However, he’s managed to sport a .346 on-base percentage. That has largely been helped by his propensity to get hit. Jackson currently ranks third in the SoCon with nine HBP on the season.
MOVING UP THE RPI
College of Charleston has taken advantage of the new RPI considerations in 2013 which reward road wins more than home wins. The Cougars are 7-3 on the road this year with series wins at Elon and Samford. CofC currently holds an RPI of 46 with a strength of schedule ranking of 25. The Cougars have played 18 games against RPI Top 100 competition, winning eight of them.
DON’T LEAVE BEFORE STRETCHING
College of Charleston has played 17 games that have either been decided or one-run games in the seventh inning or later. The Cougars are 9-8 in these close games so far this season. College of Charleston defeated UNC Wilmington (3/5) on a walk-off hit-by-pitch to cap a three-run ninth inning comeback. The Cougars also scored six runs in the seventh inning to come back and defeat Elon (3/9). Against WCU, both teams scored the game-winning run in the eighth and ninth inning for the entire three-game series. On one night in Samford, CofC won in the 11th inning, and score 11 runs in the final three innings of the next game to overcome a 6-2 deficit. In the rubber game against UNCG (4/7), CofC overcame a 2-1 ninth-inning deficit with a run in the ninth, and one in the tenth to win 3-2.
THESE BOOTS ARE MADE FOR WALKING
College of Charleston has shown great patience at the plate so far this year, drawing 144 walks and posting a team on-base percentage of .366. The Cougars lead the SoCon in walks, while Brandon Murray (28) is second in the league individually. College of Charleston has drawn 12 walks in a game on two occasions this season, including against The Citadel (3/20).
DEPENDS ON THE NIGHT
College of Charleston saw a number of close games go the wrong way on Friday nights earlier this season. Disputed ground-rule plays against Indiana State and Western Carolina cost the Cougars close games on Fridays and a an extra-inning walkoff single gave Elon a Friday night victory over CofC. However, an 11-inning win followed by an 11-0 comeback after trailing 6-2 in the 7th inning in a Friday double header at Samford might have turned the Cougars’ fortunes.
Charleston has also played in five Sunday rubber games, and it would have been five had the game against ASU not been rained out. The Cougars have won four of the five rubber games this season.
THAT FOURTH INNING THING...AGAIN?
Last season, College of Charleston was a remarkable 31-3 when leading after the fourth inning and 3-17 when trailing after the fourth. Despite a number of close games, that trend has continued in 2013. The Cougars are 15-3 when holding a lead after the fourth, and 2-9 when trailing after the fourth inning.