12-Run Second Inning Powers Baseball Past Charleston Southern
N. CHARLESTON, S.C. - Sophomore 3B Matt Leeds (Boca Raton, Fla./American Heritage) and junior DH Rob Kral (Randolph, N.J./Randolph) both hammered grand slams in a 12-run second inning and freshman PH Dre Watts (Laurens, S.C./Laurens) added a third grand slam in the eighth as College of Charleston cruised to a 28-6 victory over host Charleston Southern University Wednesday afternoon at CSU Ballpark. The 12 runs in the inning set a program record for most runs in the second inning and the three grand slams in a game tied a Cougar baseball mark.
The three grand slams equal a record set by the team in 2008, as Jeremie Tice, Gabe Marchant and current junior CF Cole Rakar (Mt. Pleasant, S.C./Wando) all hit grand slams in a 31-3 win over Davidson on March 21. The second-inning output was one off the all-time record of 13, set in the fifth inning of a 27-9 win over Furman on March 29, 2009.
The Cougars (18-5) led off the game with two runs in the first inning, scoring on a RBI single through the left side by Kral and on a RBI double down the left-field line by junior LF Jose Rodriguez (Hialeah, Fla./Broward College). Charleston freshman RHP Matt Pegler (Greenville, S.C./Riverside) ran into some early trouble with runners at second and third, but was able to get CSU's Tyler Thornburg to foul out to first to end the threat.
Charleston exploded for the record-setting 12 runs in the top of the second as the Cougars also set the mark for most plate appearances in an inning with 15. Junior C Robert Pritcher (Charleston, S.C./Spartanburg Methodist College) reached on a fielding error by 2B Bentley Christmas and moved to second on the error. A single through the left side by junior SS Jamie Holler (Rock Hill, S.C./USC Sumter JC) and a walk to junior RF Baker Knox (San Mateo, Fla./Daytona Beach CC) loaded the bases. Rakar roped a two-run single to left and Kral was hit by a 2-1 pitch to set up the first grand slam by Leeds, a deep shot to right field for his seventh home run of the season.
After Charlie McCrady replaced CSU starter Jesse Cadenhead, Rodriguez grounded out to second for the first out of the inning. Junior 2B Jesse Mesa (Miramar, Fla./Central Florida JC) and senior 1B Greg Blake (Westerly, R.I./Lake City CC) followed with back-to-back doubles, and Blake came home on a throwing error by Walt Quattlebaum that put Pritcher on first. Holler singled through the left side and Knox was hit by a pitch to load the bases again. Rakar popped up to second, but Kral stepped in a delivered a booming shot to right center for 14-0 Charleston lead.
Rodriguez led off the third with a solo shot to right center, his seventh of the season to give CofC a 15-0 advantage. Charleston Southern got on the board in the bottom of the third as Matt Still hit a two-run home run to center, cutting into the Cougars' lead. Charleston added three more runs in the fourth as Rakar homered to left center with Knox aboard and Rodriguez lined a RBI single to right for an 18-2 lead.
The Buccaneers plated four runs in the fifth, scoring on a RBI single up the middle by Still and adding two more on a RBI single to right center by Quattlebaum. Patrick Dolan's sacrifice fly to right scored the Bucs' final run of the inning, cutting the CofC lead to 18-6. Charleston scored a single run in the seventh, before exploding once again in the eighth inning, tallying nine runs for a 28-8 lead.
With two outs and the bases loaded, senior 2B Joey Bergman (Jacksonville, Fla./Bishop Kenny) hit a RBI single to left and senior 1B Justin Brewer (Greer, S.C./Spartanburg Methodist College) scored two runs on a single to center and a fielding error. An RBI single to center by junior C Kolby Epley (Yadkinville, N.C./Forbush) continued the onslaught as the Bucs brought in Matt Walker in relief. A single by Holler and a walk by Knox loaded the bases again and Watts delivered the game's third grand slam to right center capping an offensive showing by the Cougars. The nine runs in the eighth inning was also a new program mark for Charleston.
The Bucs scored three runs in the ninth, as Brandon McKinney's three-run homer to left field made the final score 28-9.
Pegler improved to 2-0 on the season, tossing five innings and allowing six runs on eight hits with three strikeouts. Kral, Rodriguez and Holler each had three hits for the Cougars, while Kral led the team with five RBI.
The Cougars return to action this weekend as they travel to face Southern Conference foe Western Carolina. Friday's first pitch is set for 6:00 p.m.