MYRTLE BEACH, S.C. - Sophomore LF Jose Rodriguez (Hialeah, Fla./Broward College) went 4-for-5 with a solo home run and senior RHP Kevin Decker (Washington, Ind./Seminole CC) struck out seven in 7.1 innings as the #2 seeded College of Charleston defeated #3 North Carolina State Friday evening in the opening round of the 2010 NCAA Regional at BB&T Coastal Field. The Cougars improve to 43-17 on the season and will meet #1 seed and regional host Coastal Carolina Friday evening at 7:00 p.m.
Charleston jumped out 3-0 in the bottom of the first inning, using four hits to stake the early lead. Senior 2B Joey Bergman (Jacksonville, Fla./Bishop Kenny) led off the frame with a single and advanced to second when junior CF Cole Rakar (Mt. Pleasant, S.C./Wando) was hit by a pitch. A RBI single through the right side by redshirt-sophomore Rob Kral (Randolph, N.J./Randolph) scored Bergman and a sacrifice fly to left by sophomore 3B Matt Leeds (Boca Raton, Fla./American Heritage) plated Rakar for the first two runs. After a single by Rodriguez, junior RF Baker Knox (San Mateo, Fla./Daytona Beach CC) ripped a RBI single to left to bring home Kral.
The Cougars continued to pound away at Wolfpack starter Jake Buchanan, scoring four more runs in the fourth for a 7-0 advantage. Freshman DH Dre Watts (Laurens, S.C./Laurens) opened the inning with a single up the middle and advanced to third on a fielder's choice by junior SS Jamie Holler (Rock Hill, S.C./USC Sumter JC) and a throwing error by the Wolfpack's third baseman. A bunt single by Rakar loaded the bases for Leeds, who delivered a two-run single through the right side for his 83rd and 84th RBI, moving him into second place on the all-time single-season chart. Senior 1B Greg Blake (Westerly, R.I./Lake City CC) lofted a sacrifice fly to left to plate Rakar and give the Cougars a comfortable seven-run cushion.
North Carolina State (38-23) chipped away in the top of the sixth, scoring a pair of runs to cut the Cougars' lead to 7-2. A pair of RBI groundouts by Kyle Wilson and Dallas Poulk put the Wolfpack on the scoreboard, but Charleston came back with Rodriguez's solo blast to left in the bottom of the frame for an 8-2 lead.
The Wolfpack put a scare into the Cougar faithful, as Drew Poulk hammered a grand slam to left in the top of the eighth to cut the deficit to two runs and boost the noise level of the NC State fans. A lead-off single by John Gianis and a pair of walks to Wilson and Dallas Poulk chased Decker to the bench in favor of senior RHP Tom Schiller (Rochester, N.Y./Monroe CC). Poulk deposited an 0-1 pitch from Schiller over the wall in left for his 14th round-tripper of the season and left the Cougars clinging to an 8-6 lead.
Blake gave Charleston an insurance run in the bottom of the eighth, crushing a 0-1 pitch from Wolfpack reliever Nick Rice over the fence in right center for the 9-6 final score.
Decker picked up his eighth win of the season, remaining undefeated on the mound. The senior allowed five runs, three earned, on five hits and walked four. Rakar added three hits on the evening and Leeds knocked in three runs to lead the Cougars. Each Cougar in the lineup had at least one hit as Charleston tallied 16 hits on the evening.
Buchanan allowed 13 of those hits in the loss, tossing four innings and giving up seven runs, four earned, with three strikeouts. Dallas Poulk and Gianis had two hits apiece for the Wolfpack.