MT. PLEASANT, S.C. - College of Charleston raced out to a 7-0 lead after three innings and held on for a 10-8 non-conference Senior Night victory over UNC Wilmington on Saturday night at Patriots Point. The Cougars close out the regular season with a 41-15 overall record and are the #2 seed for next week's 2010 Southern Conference Tournament at Riley Park.
The Cougars opened the game with a pair of runs in the first inning, as sophomore 3B Matt Leeds (Boca Raton, Fla./American Heritage) blasted a two-run shot over the fence in left field for his 20th home run of the season. Leeds finished the game with three RBI, giving him a team-high 80 on the year.
Charleston plated five more runs in the third, using four hits and a Seahawk error to extend the lead to 7-0. Leeds led off with a four-pitch walk and senior 1B Greg Blake (Westerly, R.I./Lake City CC) brought him home on a RBI triple to right center. Sophomore LF Jose Rodriguez (Hialeah, Fla./Broward College) reached on a fielding error by the UNCW first baseman and Blake scored on the play to make the score 4-0. Junior RF Baker Knox (San Mateo, Fla./Daytona Beach CC) lined a triple down the right-field line to plate Rodriguez and junior PH Kolby Epley (Yadkinville, N.C./Forbush) hit a sacrifice fly to center, bringing home Knox from third. A double by junior SS Jamie Holler (Rock Hill, S.C./USC Sumter JC) put a runner in scoring position for senior 2B Joey Bergman (Jacksonville, Fla./Bishop Kenny), who ripped a RBI single to right center for the 7-0 advantage.
UNCW chipped away scoring three runs in the fifth, a pair in the sixth and a single run in the eighth to cut the Cougars' lead to 7-6. However, Charleston added three insurance runs in the bottom of the eighth to gain some distance on the scoreboard. Bergman and junior CF Cole Rakar (Mt. Pleasant, S.C./Wando) opened the frame with back-to-back singles and redshirt-sophomore C Rob Kral (Randolph, N.J./Randolph) lined a RBI single up the middle to score Bergman and advance Rakar to third. Leeds followed up with a RBI single to left, scoring Rakar and Kral cam home on a RBI fielder's choice by Rodriguez.
The Cougars would need those insurance runs as UNCW scored twice in the top of the ninth to cut the lead to 10-8. With junior RHP Heath Hembree (Cowpens, S.C./Spartanburg Methodist College) on in relief, the Seahawks scored on a RBI single by Cody Stanley and a two-out, bases-loaded walk by Alex Hill, before senior RHP Tom Schiller (Rochester, N.Y./Monroe CC) came in and picked up his second save of the season, striking out Rhett Miller to end the game.
Freshman starter Christian Powell (Greenwood, S.C./Greenwood) earned his seventh win of the season, tossing five innings and allowing three runs, none earned, on five hits with three strikeouts. Blake finished the game with three hits and Leeds and Bergman chipped in two apiece. Justin Bradley took the loss for UNCW, allowing six runs on three hits with seven walks in two innings.
The Cougars open the 2010 Southern Conference Tournament Wednesday morning as the #2 seed and will face #7 seed Appalachian State in the opening round at 9:00 a.m. at Riley Park.