Baseball Rallies for 11-8 Victory Over Western Carolina
CULLOWHEE, N.C. - Senior 2B Joey Bergman (Jacksonville, Fla./Bishop Kenny) returned to the College of Charleston's starting lineup and delivered a two-run single in the top of the ninth to break an 8-8 and lift the Cougars to a 11-8 victory over Western Carolina University Friday night at Hennon Stadium. The Cougars win their seventh straight and improve to 19-5 overall and 5-2 in the SoCon. Western Carolina falls to 13-7-1, 1-5-1 in the conference.
With the score knotted at 8-8, junior SS Jamie Holler (Rock Hill, S.C./USC Sumter JC) and junior RF Baker Knox (San Mateo, Fla./Daytona Beach CC) started off the ninth by each getting hit by pitches. Junior CF Cole Rakar (Mt. Pleasant, S.C./Wando) advanced with a bunt single to third to load the bases. Bergman lined a single down the left-field line to put the Cougars ahead for good. Sophomore 3B Matt Leeds (Boca Raton, Fla./American Heritage) added a sacrifice fly to center to score Rakar for the final run.
Western Carolina jumped on the board first with a solo home run to left center by Dylan de Graaf. The Cougars took the lead in the top of the fifth, manufacturing a pair of runs to take a 2-1 advantage. With one out, Rakar singled up the middle and advanced two bases on a throwing error by the Catamounts' catcher. Bergman walked and while he was stealing second, Rakar scored on a wild pitch by Catamount starter Jason Sullivan. After a walk to junior DH Rob Kral (Randolph, N.J./Randolph) and Leeds was hit by a pitch, junior LF Jose Rodriguez (Hialeah, Fla./Broward College) hit a sacrifice fly to deep center, scoring Bergman.
The Cougars added two more runs in the top of the fifth to increase their lead to 4-1. Holler led off the inning with a bunt single to third and Knox was hit by a pitch before Rakar moved the runners into scoring position with a sacrifice bunt. Bergman, in his first start since February 20, roped a two-run double down right-field line to give the Cougars a three-run lead.
Western Carolina rallied back with six runs in the bottom of the frame to take a 7-4 lead. Ross Heffley led off with a single to third and Ollie Goulder cut the Cougars' lead to one with a two-run homer to left field. After freshman starter Christian Powell (Greenwood, S.C./Greenwood) retired the next batter, Radley Haddad walked and advanced to second on a wild pitch. Tyler Kirkpatrick lined a RBI double down the left-field line to score Haddad, knotting the score at 4-4. Matt Johns roped a RBI double to left, putting WCU in the lead and sending Powell to the bench. Senior Tom Schiller (Rochester, N.Y./Monroe CC) entered the game and gave up a RBI single to Austin Schultz that scored Johns. Schultz advanced to second on a throwing error by senior 1B Greg Blake (Westerly, R.I./Lake City CC) and moved to third on a wild pitch by Schiller. Cameron Dullnig capitalized on the Charleston errors by lining a RBI double to right, giving the Catamounts a three-run cushion after six innings.
Charleston cut the deficit to two runs when Blake scored on a balk by Brandon Johnson in the seventh inning. The Cougars led off the eighth frame with a walk by Bergman before Western Carolina brought in reliever Daniel Ottone. Ottone issued a base on balls to Kral and Leeds stepped into the batter's box and promptly delivered the first pitch over the left-field fence for a three-run home run and an 8-7 Cougars lead.
The Catamounts would not go quietly, tying the game once again with a single run in the bottom of the eighth. Dullnig lined a RBI single up the middle off senior reliever Heath Hembree (Cowpens, S.C./Spartanburg Methodist College) to score Johns. Charleston would tally its three runs in the top of the ninth and Hembree returned to toss a perfect final inning to secure the Cougars' win.
Hembree pitched 1.1 innings, giving up two hits and striking out two en route to his fourth win of the season out of the bullpen. Powell tossed 5.2 innings, allowing seven hits and six runs with three strikeouts. Bergman went 2-for-3 with four RBI and two runs scored, while Holler and Raker added two hits apiece. Western Carolina hit seven Charleston batters on the evening.
The Cougars return to action tomorrow as they face Western Carolina in a doubleheader due to the impending rain on Sunday. The first game is set to start at 2:00 p.m.