MT. PLEASANT, S.C. - Junior LF Jose Rodriguez (Hialeah, Fla./Broward College) lined a RBI single to left center in the bottom of the ninth to score senior 2B Joey Bergman (Jacksonville, Fla./Bishop Kenny) and give College of Charleston an 8-7 victory over Georgia Southern in Southern Conference action at Patriots Point Saturday afternoon. Senior 1B Greg Blake (Westerly, R.I./Lake City CC) added two home runs as the Cougars improve to 22-7 on the season and 7-4 in the conference.
With the score knotted a 7-7, Bergman reached on a fielding error by SS Eric Phillips and stole second base during the next at bat. Georgia Southern reliever Colin Snow intentionally walked sophomore 3B Matt Leeds (Boca Raton, Fla./American Heritage) and Rodriguez singled an 0-2 pitch to left center to give the Cougars their second straight victory in the bottom of the ninth.
The Eagles (15-13, 7-4 SoCon) opened the scoring with a single run in the second inning, scoring on a RBI groundout to second by Michael Burruss. Georgia Southern extended their lead to 5-0 in the next frame, plating four runs off Charleston senior RHP Kevin Decker (Washington, Ind./Seminole CC). Back-to-back singles by Kevin Bowles and Kyle Blackburn put runners at the corners for A.J. Wirnsberger, who roped a RBI double to left center. Eric Phillips followed with a two-run double to left, bringing home Wirnsberger and Blackburn. Phillips would later score on a fielding error by Leeds.
Charleston rallied back with four runs in the fifth to cut the deficit to one. Blake led off the inning with a solo home run to right center, his fifth of the season. With one out, Bergman doubled to left center and advanced to third on a wild pitch by Eagles starter Matt Murray. Junior CF Cole Rakar (Mt. Pleasant, S.C./Wando) lined a RBI single to left center, scoring Bergman to make the score 5-2. Rakar stole second and junior C Rob Kral (Randolph, N.J./Randolph) deposited a 2-2 pitch over wall in left center for his seventh round-tripper of the season.
Georgia Southern opened a two-run cushion in the sixth with a single run on a sacrifice fly to center by Arthur Owens, but the Cougars fought back again with three runs in the eighth to take a 7-6 lead. Rodriguez singled to third on a sharp groundball and junior DH Kolby Epley (Yadkinville, N.C./Forbush) knotted the game with a two-run shot to left center on a 0-1 pitch from Snow. Blake stepped into the batter's box and crushed a 1-1 offering over the wall in center for his second home run of the game and a 7-6 advantage for the Cougars.
Senior reliever Heath Hembree (Cowpens, S.C./Spartanburg Methodist College) entered the game in the ninth for the Cougars and hit Owens with a 1-0 pitch to put a runner at first. After striking out Bowles, pinch runner Shawn Payne stole second and then scored on a RBI groundout to first by Blackburn. Hembree got Phillips to fly out to center to end the Eagles' threat in the ninth and giving the Cougars a shot at the win.
Hembree earned the victory to improve to 4-1 on the season, allowing one run and one hit with one strikeout. Decker tossed six innings, scattering 10 hits and giving up six runs, four earned. Blake led the Cougars, going 2-for-3 with two home runs and three RBI, while Bergman and Rodriguez both chipped in with two hits. Snow took the loss for Georgia Southern, allowing four runs on four hits in 1.2 innings. Murray lasted five innings, giving up four runs on six hits with six strikeouts.
The Cougars and Georgia Southern complete the three-game series Sunday afternoon at 1:00 p.m.