The Cougars (16-12, 7-4) have won four straight SoCon games and currently sit third in the conference standings, while UNCG (15-14, 3-6) is currently 10th in the league rankings.
Last weekend at Birmingham, the Cougars tallied 32 runs on 44 hits to earn the first weekend sweep of 2013. Brandon Murray and Gunnar Heidt combined for 16 hits, 16 RBI, nine runs and a combined slugging percentage of .965.
On Tuesday night, the CofC bats could not get going until the seventh inning when they cut the UNCW lead to 4-2. However, the Seahawks scored three more runs in the bottom of the seventh to secure the 7-2 victory. CofC stranded 11 runners on base, including six in scoring position in the loss.
The weekend series will be carried on the Charleston Sports Network through CofCSports.com. Jack Ryan will have the play-by-play call, joined by Mike Ward.
PROBABLE STARTING PITCHERS
Friday RHP #Max Povse UNCG 1-1, 3.86 ERA, 32.2 IP, 14 BB, 38 K
RHP #22 Matt Pegler CofC 1-1, 2.62 ERA, 48.0 IP, 7 BB, 32 K
Saturday LHP # Corey Taylor UNCG 0-3, 6.84 ERA, 25.0 IP, 16 BB, 27 K
RHP #20 Nathan Helvey CofC 3-2, 2.88 ERA, 34.1 IP, 9 BB, 18 K
Sunday RHP #7 Lee Gilliam UNCG 2-1, 1.76 ERA, 41.0 IP, 16 BB, 32 K
RHP #29 Ryan West CofC 2-1, 6.55 ERA, 22.0 IP, 15 BB, 18 K
SERIES VS. UNC GREENSBORO
CofC took two of three at UNCG last season to secure a share of the SoCon regular season title. Charleston is 27-19 all-time against the Spartans, including 9-3 during Monte Lee’s tenure as head coach.
SCOUTING THE SPARTANS
UNCG enters the weekend after suffering a tough loss to Wake Forest in the ninth inning on Tuesday night. However, the Spartans did win two of three from league-leading Georgia Southern last weekend. They lead the SoCon with a .303 batting average and 7.0 runs per game. The Spartan pitching staff has struggled at times, posting a 5.08 ERA and allowing opponents to hit .269.
UNCG’s Christian Wolfe is the SoCon leader with a .436 average, ranking 10th in the nation, while pitcher Lee Gilliam leads all SoCon pitchers with a 1.36 ERA and a 2-1 record.
NEW YEAR, SAME ERA
College of Charleston surprised many with its dominating pitching staff which led the SoCon in multiple categories in 2012. With five pitchers of that staff departed, including four to the minor leagues, some expected 2013 to be a rebuilding year for CofC pitching. However, this season the Cougars lead the conference with a staff ERA of 3.75. They are first in opposing batting average (.247), second in strikeout-to-walk ratio (2.16) and second in walks allowed (92).
COFC STARTERS ARE QUALITY
College of Charleston’s weekend starters (Matt Pegler, Jake Zokan and Nathan Helvey) have combined for 11 quality starts through the first seven weekends (19 starts). They have a collective 2.89 ERA and 4.0:1 strikeout-to-walk ratio. Pegler ranks fourth in the league with a 2.62 ERA and fourth with an opponent batting average of .217, while Zokan ranks second with 17 strikeouts looking.
PEGLER MOVING UP THE RECORD BOOKS
With his 2.62 ERA in 2013, Matt Pegler has brought his career ERA to 3.67 which ranks ninth in CofC history for pitchers over 75 innings pitched. Pegler is also second among active SoCon leaders in career ERA (3.67) and wins (15) and leads all active pitchers with a career opponent batting average of .244.
NOW PAGING DR. DRE
Senior Dre Watts battled injury in the first month of the season, but has reemerged as the Cougars go-to closer in late-game situations. Watts had a 2.1-inning save against Appalachian State, and finished a losing effort against South Carolina without allowing a hit in the eighth and ninth innings. He went into the 11th inning to earn his second win of the season at Samford. Watts now has a 1.65 ERA with three saves and 21 strikeouts in just 16.1 innings.
HEIDT NOT SOPHOMORE SLUMPING
Sophomore shortstop Gunnar Heidt, one of only two true sophomores on the roster, has been an important returner for the Cougars infield and batting lineup. Heidt has a team-leading .339 batting average with 25 runs scored and a SoCon-high five triples, which currently ties him for second nationally. He has a .560 slugging percentage with a team-high 27 RBIs. Heidt has also made a number of good plays defensively, turning nine double plays this season.
MURRAY FINDING HIS GROOVE
Brandon Murray started the season with big expectations after leading the team in home runs last season, but his preseason accolades did not translate to on-field production during the first month. However, Murray has begun to find a groove as he has hit .463 in the last 12 games with nine runs, 11 RBI and a .707 slugging percentage.
At Samford, he hit .667 with seven RBI and a 1.167 slugging mark, blasting a double and scoring a game-winning run, hitting a three-run triple to cap a 11-0 comeback after falling behind 6-2, and hitting his team-best third home run.
BABY GOT BOYK
Junior transfer Ben Boykin has made the most of his opportunities at the plate this season. Boykin is second on the the team with a .337 batting average and a .547 slugging percentage. He leads the team with 10 doubles and has become the team’s power-hitting designated hitter. He drove in the winning run in the 11th inning at Samford and came home to score an insurance run on a safety squeeze.
TRUE FRESHMEN STEPPING UP
College of Charleston coach Monte Lee has inserted freshmen Blake Butler and Alex Pastorius into the everyday starting lineup and both players have answered the call early in their CofC careers. Butler has a .405 on-base percentage with 19 walks and 17 runs. He had a big weekend at Samford, hitting .455 with his first career triple, after moving from leadoff to the bottom of the lineup.
Pastorius ranks fourth on the team with a .313 batting average and has scored 22 runs with 14 RBI. He responded well after being named the leadoff batter at Samford, hitting .583 with seven runs and a .722 on-base percentage.
Freshman reserve Carl Wise has seen several spot starts and already has two home runs and a slugging percentage of .412. His pinch-hit single at Samford started a four-run seventh inning that tied the second game of the doubleheader.
GO AHEAD...HIT ME
CofC senior Tyler Jackson has not found the same power (0 HRs) that he showed last year as the team’s first baseman. However, he’s managed to sport a .381 on-base percentage. That has largely been helped by his propensity to get hit. Jackson currently ranks third in the SoCon with eight HBP on the season.
MOVING UP THE RPI
College of Charleston has taken advantage of the new RPI considerations in 2013 which reward road wins more than home wins. The Cougars are 7-3 on the road this year with series wins at Elon and Samford. CofC currently holds an RPI of 38 with a strength of schedule ranking of 19. The Cougars have played 19 games against RPI Top 100 competition, winning nine of them.
DON’T LEAVE BEFORE STRETCHING
College of Charleston has played 16 games that have either been decided or one-run games in the seventh inning or later. The Cougars are 8-8 in these close games so far this season. College of Charleston defeated UNC Wilmington (3/5) on a walk-off hit-by-pitch to cap a three-run ninth inning comeback. The Cougars also scored six runs in the seventh inning to come back and defeat Elon (3/9). Against WCU, both teams scored the game-winning run in the eighth and ninth inning for the entire three-game series. On one night in Samford, CofC won in the 11th inning, and score 11 runs in the final three innings of the next game to overcome a 6-2 deficit.
THESE BOOTS ARE MADE FOR WALKING
College of Charleston has shown great patience at the plate so far this year, drawing 134 walks and posting a team on-base percentage of .369. The Cougars are second in the SoCon in walks, while Brandon Murray (26) is tied for first in the league individually. College of Charleston has drawn 12 walks in a game on two occasions this season, including against The Citadel (3/20).
DEPENDS ON THE NIGHT
College of Charleston saw a number of close games go the wrong way on Friday nights earlier this season. Disputed ground-rule plays against Indiana State and Western Carolina cost the Cougars close games on Fridays and a an extra-inning walkoff single gave Elon a Friday night victory over CofC. However, an 11-inning win followed by an 11-0 comeback after trailing 6-2 in the 7th inning in a Friday double header at Samford might have turned the Cougars fortunes. Charleston has also played in four Sunday rubber games, and it would have been five had the game against ASU not been rained out. The Cougars have won three of the four rubber games this season.
THAT FOURTH INNING THING...AGAIN?
Last season, College of Charleston was a remarkable 31-3 when leading after the fourth inning and 3-17 when trailing after the fourth. Despite a number of close games, that trend has continued in 2013. The Cougars are 13-3 when holding a lead after the fourth, and 2-8 when trailing after the fourth inning.