College of Charleston will throw freshman LHP Player Loving against USC’s RHP Forrest Koumas. It will mark the second time this season that a freshman South Carolina native has faced the Gamecocks after RHP Nathan Helvey earned the start against USC on March 26.
Over the weekend, the Cougars went 2-1 on the road at Davidson with a record-breaking Sunday rubber game that saw CofC score 18 runs on 19 hits with four long balls.
Brandon Murray was named a Louisville Slugger National Player of the Week and Southern Conference Player of the Week after he set a school record with nine RBI in a single game on Sunday. Murray hit a grand slam, three-run homer and a two-run double to post the third-highest RBI total in a game in the NCAA this season.
College of Charleston’s series win over Davidson pulls the Cougars to within a half-game of first place in the Southern Conference, trailing Elon and Western Carolina who are both 12-6.
Tuesday’s game will be regionally aired on SportSouth with Andy Demetra and Trey Dyson on the call. Fans can also listen to ESPN 910 AM on the radio where “Voice of the Cougars” Jeff McCarragher will have the call.
PROBABLE STARTING PITCHERS
RHP #27 Forrest Koumas USC 0-0, 6.39 ERA, 12.2 IP, 10 BB, 12 K
LHP #31 Player Loving CofC 1-1, 4.85 ERA, 13.0 IP, 9 BB, 16 K
SERIES VS. SOUTH CAROLINA
College of Charleston is 4-31 against the Gamecocks after the SEC power won a 3-1 contest at Patriots Point earlier this season. All of the Cougars four wins have come away from CofC’s home field with Charleston winning a 4-3 contest last season up in Columbia. The Cougars hit three home runs in that game and former closer David Peterson worked out of a bases loaded jam in the eighth inning to preserve the win.
SCOUTING THE GAMECOCKS
South Carolina will be coming off its second 0-3 road weekend in SEC play, falling to the Gators this past weekend. The weekend precipitated a fall in the polls as USC went to #14 in the Coaches Poll and #18 in the Baseball America poll.
South Carolina’s top hitter remains Connor Bright who has a .324 batting average, while LB Dantzler leads the team with 10 HR and 36 RBI. The Gamecocks average 6.24 runs per game with a staff ERA of 3.16.
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 3.91. They are first in opposing batting average (.252), second in strikeout-to-walk ratio (2.32) and second in walks allowed (115).
COFC STARTERS ARE QUALITY
College of Charleston’s weekend starters (Matt Pegler, Jake Zokan and Nathan Helvey) have combined for 13 quality starts this season. Helvey accounts for five of those quality starts as he now leads the team with a 2.68 ERA as a freshman. Helvey has only allowed one run in the last 14 innings that he’s pitched.
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 3-0 record and 1.57 ERA with three saves and 28strikeouts in just 23.0 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. He was recently named the SoCon Player of the Month for March.
Heidt has a .326 batting average with 33 runs scored and a SoCon-high five triples, which currently ties him for third nationally. He has a .521 slugging percentage with 33 RBIs. He knocked the first walk-off hit of his career in the 10th against UNCG, winning that game 3-2.
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 .420 since the WCU series with 25 RBI and a .725 slugging percentage.
Murray was named the Louisville Slugger National Player of the Week after he set a new school record with nine RBI in a single game at Davidson. He hit a grand slam, a three-run HR and a two-run double in the game. The nine RBI was the third-most by an NCAA player in a single game in 2013. Murray leads the SoCon with 31 walks, and now ranks fourth in the league with 38 RBI.
BABY GOT BOYK
Junior transfer Ben Boykin has made the most of his opportunities at the plate this season. Boykin leads the team with a .353 batting average and a .552 slugging percentage. He leads the team with 12 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. He hit his third homer of the season against UNCG.
TRUE FRESHMEN STEPPING UP
College of Charleston has surprised some with the trust that the coaching staff has put in true freshmen. At this point in the season, Alex Pastorius, Blake Butler and Carl Wise have all become everyday starters in the field for Coach Lee.
Pastorius has made a number of spectacular defensive plays in right field while hitting .278 with a .390 on-base percentage. He has nine doubles on the season and has scored 23 runs, despite missing the Davidson series with a minor injury.
Butler has started every game at second base since the second weekend of the season. Despite only eight RBI, he has reliably gotten on base (.399 OBP) and had a huge weekend as the leadoff batter at Davidson, tallying nine hits and seven runs in three games.
Wise just recently became an everyday starter for the Cougars as he has played either first or third base each of the last six games. In that stretch, Wise has hit safely every game and tallied a batting average of .417 with three extra-base hits.
PHILLY FROM NYC
Redshirt-freshman Morgan Phillips has joined with the three true freshman to be a powerful youth movement in the CofC lineup after the season started. Phillips hit his first career home run at Davidson, and followed it up with another homer the next day. He is hitting .253 with 11 extra-base hits and 14 runs scored this year. Phillips is also in the midst of an 18-game reached base streak, the highest for any Cougar player this season.
DON’T LEAVE BEFORE STRETCHING
College of Charleston has played 20 games that have either been decided or one-run games in the seventh inning or later. The Cougars are 10-10 in these close games so far this season. The Cougars went to extra innings three time in the last week, defeating UNCG but falling to Coastal Carolina and Davidson in extras. Charleston is 3-6 in one-run games and 2-3 in extra-inning games this season. Cougar relief pitchers have accounted for 20 decisions this year, going 12-8 as a bullpen.
THESE BOOTS ARE MADE FOR WALKING
College of Charleston has shown great patience at the plate so far this year, drawing 162 walks and posting a team on-base percentage of .365. The Cougars lead the SoCon in walks, while Brandon Murray (31) leads the league individually. College of Charleston has drawn 12 walks in a game on two occasions this season, including against The Citadel (3/20).
SUNDAY RUBBER SUNDAY
Charleston has also played in six Sunday rubber games, and it would have been seven had the game against ASU not been rained out. The Cougars are 5-1 in Sunday rubber matches and have only lost two weekend series all 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 16-4 when holding a lead after the fourth, and 2-9 when trailing after the fourth inning.