CHARLESTON, S.C. - Senior 1B Greg Blake (Westerly, R.I./Lake City CC) went 4-for-5 with three RBI and junior DH Kolby Epley (Yadkinville, S.C./Forbush) blasted a grand slam in a 10-run third inning as College of Charleston pounded crosstown rival The Citadel 16-7 in a non-conference clash Tuesday evening at Riley Park. Junior RHP Josh Salay (Rock Hill, S.C./Spartanburg Methodist College) earned the win for CofC, who improved to 28-11 overall, while the Bulldogs fell to 26-14.
The Bulldogs jumped out to an early 2-0 lead in the bottom of the first, scoring on a sacrifice fly by Bryan Altman and a RBI single up the middle by Kyle Jordan. From that point on, the offensive fireworks all belonged to the Cougars.
Sending 15 batters to the plate in the top of the third inning, CofC posted double-digit runs in a single frame for the second time this season, plating 10 runs to open an eight-run cushion on the host Bulldogs. Blake and junior 2B Jesse Mesa (Miramar, Fla./Central Florida JC) kicked things off with back-to-back singles and Blake advanced to third on a wild pitch by Citadel starter Austin Pritcher. Senior SS Joey Bergman (Jacksonville, Fla./Bishop Kenny) lined a RBI single to right, scoring Blake and putting runners at the corners. Junior CF Cole Rakar (Mt. Pleasant, S.C./Wando) ripped a two-run double to left, giving the Cougars a 3-2 lead they would not relinquish.
Charleston kept the pedal to the floor as sophomore 3B Matt Leeds (Boca Raton, Fla./American Heritage) walked and sophomore LF Jose Rodriguez (Hialeah, Fla./Broward College) single to load the bases for junior RF Baker Knox (San Mateo, Fla./Daytona Beach CC). Knox delivered an infield single to score Leeds, setting the stage for Epley, who crushed a 2-2 pitch from Bulldog reliever Chris Boyce over the wall in left for a grand slam, the Cougars' fifth of the season, and an 8-2 Charleston lead. Blake followed Epley's slam with a solo home run of his own, depositing the first pitch he faced over the right-field fence. Bergman continued the onslaught, reaching on a single up the middle, stealing second and third, and scoring on a throwing error by Altman.
The Citadel would put up a single run in the fourth on a RBI single by William Ladd, but the Cougars tallied three more in the sixth to extend their lead to 13-3. Rakar led off with a double down the left-field line and junior C Rob Kral (Randolph, N.J./Randolph) singled to center, putting runners at the corners. Rakar scored on a fielder's choice by Leeds, with Kral being forced out at second. Knox doubled to center to bring home Leeds and Blake plated Knox with a RBI single to left.
After the Bulldogs posted a run in the seventh, CofC scored twice in the eighth, on a RBI triple by Blake and a RBI single by junior PH Jamie Holler (Rock Hill, S.C./USC Sumter JC). Citadel added another run in the bottom of the frame to cut the Cougars' lead to 15-5, but Charleston responded with a single run in the ninth on a sacrifice fly by junior C Robert Pritcher (Charleston, S.C./Spartanburg Methodist College). The Bulldogs plated two late runs in their final at-bat to close the scoring.
Salay allowed three runs on five hits in five innings with five strikeouts for the Cougars. Blake fell a double short of hitting for the cycle, setting season-highs in hits (4) and RBI (3). Rakar added four hits, including two doubles, and three runs scored, while Bergman chipped in with three hits on the night. The 16 runs was the second-most runs that CofC had scored against The Citadel, only behind the 21 runs scored in a victory last season at Patriots Point.
Pritcher took the loss for The Citadel, allowing eight runs on eight hits in 2-1/3 innings. Four Bulldogs recorded two hits apiece, with Kyle Jordan and Legare Jones recording a double each.
The Cougars return to Southern Conference action this weekend as they host Elon in a three-game series at Patriots Point. First pitch on Friday is set for 6:00 p.m.