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Cougars Take On Tribe For Conference Crown
Courtesy: CofCSports.com  
Release: 05/14/2014
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MT. PLEASANT, S.C. – College of Charleston will close the 2014 season at home this weekend with an opportunity to win the CAA Regular Season Championship.

The Cougars (36-16, 13-5) will face conference leader and offensive dynamo William & Mary (31-18, 14-3) in a clash of the conference’s top teams on Thursday (6 p.m.), Friday (6 p.m.) and Saturday (3 p.m.). CofC must sweep the Tribe in order to win the regular season crown, although College of Charleston has already clinched the tournament’s two seed and a first-round bye.

CofC will have confidence after a momentum-building 11-10 win over rival Coastal Carolina on Tuesday night. It was an epic 12-inning battle that lasted five hours and 13 minutes, just six minutes short of the school record.

The Cougars built a 5-0 lead but then trailed 9-6 heading into the seventh inning. Charleston had a three-run rally on two errors to tie the game and send it to extra innings. Although Coastal scored a run in the top of the 11th, CofC answered with a sacrifice fly RBI to tie it again. A two-out single nearly won the game, but CCU threw out Austin Bello at the plate for the third out.

Shortstop Champ Rowland pitched in the 12th and got out of a bases-loaded jam with a strikeout. That set the stage for Nick Pappas’ two-out game-winning hit in the bottom of the 12th, scoring Blake Butler for CofC’s fifth walk-off win of the season.

Weekend Festivities

The season’s final weekend will feature a number of special presentations for members of the Cougar baseball family, past and present. On Friday, CofC will honor former players Brandon Sizemore and Brett Harker with induction into the CofC Baseball Wall of Fame. On Saturday, Charleston recognizes six seniors, Ben Boykin, Michael Hanzlik, Brandon Murray, Blake Ross, Derrick Smith and Ryan Welke, for their contributions to the program over the last four years.

 

Probable Starters

CofC

Stats

Day

Stats

Opponent

RHP Taylor Clarke

9-3, 2.55 ERA, 70 K

Thursday

9-2, 2.67 ERA, 78 K

LHP Jason Inghram

RHP Tyler Thornton

5-4, 3.13 ERA, 53 K

Friday

5-4, 4.04 ERA, 40 K

RHP John Sheehan

TBA

 

Saturday

 

TBA

Follow Live

All of the weekend’s games will be streamed live on the Charleston Sports Network on Ustream. Fans can also listen to Jeff McCarragher and Rob Harding on ESPN 910 AM.

Series Records

This weekend will be the first time that the Cougars and Tribe meet on the diamond.

Scouting the Opposition

William & Mary enters the weekend in first place in the conference standings. The Tribe earned an automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament last year and has found success due to its dynamic offense this season.

The Tribe rank second in the nation with 8.5 runs per game. They are third in slugging percentage (.489) and third in batting average (.319) in all of college baseball. Nick Thompson is the nation’s leader with 64 runs, while Michael Katz leads the country with 71 RBIs.

William & Mary defeated Virginia Tech on Tuesday night after being swept by Gardner-Webb last weekend.

CAA Championship On The Line

College of Charleston is currently in second place in the CAA with a 13-5 record, behind William & Mary’s 14-3 mark. CofC clinched the two seed and its accompanying first-round bye with the series win at Hofstra. Charleston can win the regular season with a sweep of William & Mary at home this weekend or with two wins and no losses.

The conference tournament begins on May 21 at Brooks Field on the campus of UNCW. CofC will play its first game on May 22. The Cougars were the two seed in the two previous SoCon Tournaments in 2012 and 2013.

Thornton Wins CAA Pitcher of the Week

Charleston freshman pitcher Tyler Thornton was named CAA Pitcher of the Week, the conference office announced Monday.

Thornton was outstanding in his win on Sunday at Hofstra, recording the first out of the ninth inning in his sixth quality start of the season. A native of Taylors, S.C., Thornton allowed just three hits and one unearned run while striking out seven batters with no walks in 8.1 innings. He is now 5-4 and has wins in four of his last five starts.

The award was Thornton’s first Pitcher of the Week honor. He was named CAA Rookie of the Week on April 7.

College of Charleston has won a league-best 11 CAA weekly awards in the Cougars’ first year in the conference.

Cougars in the Ranks

College of Charleston continues to rank highly in a number of categories in the CAA and nationally. The Cougars lead the conference in team ERA (2.93), opposing batting average (.225), strikeouts (394), strikeout-to-walk ratio (2.70) and WHIP (1.14). The Cougars’ WHIP currently ranks 11th in the nation, while the K-to-BB ratio is 12th and ERA is 22nd.

Individually, Charleston has been led by freshman phenom Bailey Ober. Ober leads the conference with an ERA of 1.41 which leads all NCAA freshmen and ranks 18th in the country. He also leads all freshmen with a WHIP of 0.87, ranking 15th nationally. Taylor Clarke leads the league and is 15th in the NCAA in wins (9), while Michael Hanzlik leads the conference and is 13th in the country with 12 saves. Carl Wise is currently second in the CAA with 48 RBIs while ranking seventh in the country with nine sacrifice flies.

“Two-Headed Monster”

In his weekly mid-major report last week, PG writer Kendall Rogers described CofC’s Taylor Clarke and Bailey Ober as a two-headed monster that can do damage in the postseason.

Transferring from Towson after Tommy John surgery, Friday night starter Taylor Clarke has been nearly unstoppable all season. He sports a 9-3 record with a 2.55 ERA. He ranks 15th in the nation for his number of wins and fifth in the CAA in ERA. He has held opponents to a .206 batting average which ranks second in the league. Clarke has tallied seven quality starts including six in his last seven starts.

Clarke would be considered one of the front-runners for CAA Pitcher of the Year if not for the guy directly behind him in his own rotation. Ober is making a case for Freshman All-America status with his ERA of 1.41 which leads all freshmen pitchers in the NCAA. Ober has a 7-2 record with 65 strikeouts and a WHIP of 0.87, ranking 15th in the country. He is on pace to set a new CofC record for lowest ERA in a single season. Ober has already won five CAA weekly awards.

Strong, Physical Presence

Tyler Thornton is the physical pitcher at the back of the CofC rotation that has quietly become one of Charleston’s most valuable arms. Thornton is coming off a CAA Pitcher of the Week performance at Hofstra where he allowed just three hits in 8.1 innings. Thornton has now won four of his last five starts since becoming a weekend starter.

Coming to CofC as the 4A Player of the Year in 2013, he set a single-season state record with 180 strikeouts in his senior year. He had a slow start with several bad outings out of the bullpen. While his overall ERA is a respectable 3.13, his ERA as a starter is a staggering 2.31. He has allowed just five walks in 11 games started, leading the CAA fewest walks allowed.

Starting Out Quality

CofC’s starting pitching has had to step up with a number of injuries to starters and main bullpen contributors. Starting pitchers have now thrown 27 quality starts this season, including 19 quality starts in the last 25 games. Over those 25 games, CofC starters have a 2.14 ERA with an average of 6.39 innings pitched per outing. The program record for quality starts was 40 back in 2006.

CofC’s weekend rotation of Clarke, Ober and Tyler Thornton has a combined ERA of 2.36, ranking 12th in the country. CofC’s overall staff ERA is 2.85 which ranks 22nd nationally and currently stands as the best single-season mark for any CofC team.

Hanzo’s Got This

Senior closer Michael Hanzlik adjusted his delivery to a sidearm motion before his first year at CofC in the fall of 2012. 18 months later, that approach has made Hanzlik one of the top relievers in school history. The Blythewood, S.C., native leads the league and ranks 13th in the nation with 12 saves. In his last six appearances, he has made three saves and won two games.

Hanzlik has yet to blow a save opportunity this season and became the first CofC player in the 2000s to save two games in the same day in a DH vs. Michigan.

He has averaged more than a strikeout per inning pitched and has a season ERA of 3.58.

Chasing Perfection

Reliever Chase Henry was named to the NCBWA Stopper of the Year Watch List in April. He sports a 2-0 record with a 2.61 ERA and currently leads the CAA with 25 appearances, tying teammate Hanzlik. Henry has 48 strikeouts against 13 walks for a K-to-BB ratio of 3.69. Opponents are hitting just .233 against him.

Captain Welke In Command

Senior captain Ryan Welke started the year hitting .400 but hit a rough patch with just one hit in 13 games. He since turned it around in CAA play with a .380 average against conference opponents, second-best on the team. Welke has hits in 12 of 15 games played in the CAA with two three-hit games and a career-best five-RBI game against Delaware. He hit a big, three-run HR in a win at Hofstra.

The Wise Man Says...

Carl Wise hit his second homer of the season on Tuesday, perhaps foreshadowing another late-season power surge

Wise ranks second in the conference with 48 RBIs, leading the team with 15 multiple-RBI games.

Wise has hit .391 with runners in scoring position and has 21 RBIs in 23 opportunities with a runner on third and less than two out. Wise’s nine sacrifice flies lead the conference and rank second all-time for a single season at CofC.

Coming Through In The Clutch

College of Charleston has excited its fan base with a number of incredible finishes this season. The Cougars set a new program record by sweeping Bethune-Cookman with three consecutive walk-off victories in extra innings. Charleston then came within six minutes of setting a new school record for longest game with an epic 12-inning win over Coastal Carolina on May 13.

On the year, Charleston has five walk-off wins with a 10-5 record in one-run games. CofC is 5-1 when tied after the eighth inning this year.

Get On The Board

College of Charleston has found immense success when scoring first this season. The Cougars are 25-2 when scoring first, compared to just 11-14 when opponents score first. Charleston is 29-2 when leading after six innings, but just 3-12 when trailing after six.

Finishing the Series

College of Charleston has made a habit of finishing series strong. In 2013, the Cougars went 7-1 in rubber matches and 11-2 in the final games of series.

CofC has done well in that category in 2014, defeating No. 12 North Carolina, 3-1, in the determining game of that series, and then earning sweeps over Rhode Island, Marist, Towson, Delaware, JMU and Bethune-Cookman. Charleston is 11-2 in the final games of series and 4-1 in rubber matches in 2014. CofC’s six sweeps in 2014 ties for the second-most in one season all-time. The program record for weekend sweeps is nine, set in 2005.


Charleston Baseball


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