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Cougars Return Home To Host Furman
Release: 04/18/2013
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MT PLEASANT, S.C. - The Cougars (20-16, 11-6) return home this weekend for yet another important SoCon series against Furman (19-16, 7-11) as the race for the conference championship tightens at the top. College of Charleston is currently a half-game out of first place with Elon and Western Carolina, with The Citadel and Appalachian State right behind CofC.

Game times against Furman will be at 5 p.m. on Friday night, 2 p.m. on Saturday and 1 p.m. on Sunday afternoon.

Charleston is coming off a tough loss at No. 14 South Carolina. The Cougars surrendered five runs in the first two innings, but rallied with a four-run third to bring the score to 5-4. However, USC responded with two more runs in the bottom of the inning to pull away for good.

Brandon Murray has been putting together an MVP-type season in the past month, hitting .438 with 23 RBI and an .833 slugging percentage since March 29. He was named the Louisville Slugger National Player of the Week and the Southern Conference Player of the Week after setting a new school with nine RBI in a single game, a mark that ranks third in the nation this year.

With May around the corner, the Cougars have been in NCAA bubble discussions with Baseball America currently projecting CofC as the only at-large possibility from the Southern Conference. Charleston currently leads the SoCon with an RPI of 57.

“This is another big Southern Conference series for us,” head coach Monte Lee said. “Each weekend from now until the conference tournament will be crucial with so many teams so close together. We have to be consistently aggressive at the plate and play solid defense. We have pitched pretty well all season, so if we can put all three together every game, we can be successful down the stretch.”

The weekend series will be broadcast on the Charleston Sports Network on with Jeff McCarragher and Mike Ward on the call.

This weekend will feature a number of fun promotions from the CofC Marketing Department out at Patriots Point. On Friday, Faculty and Staff receive four free tickets, while students receive pink “The College” t-shirts as ZTA will be on hand to raise money for breast cancer research. All weekend fans will have the opportunity to donate to the baseball’s team drive with Vs. Cancer to raise money for childhood cancer research. On Monday evening between 5-9 p.m., Raising Canes will be promoting the cause at their Mt. Pleasant restaurant and donating 10% of all sales to CofC’s fundraising effort.

As always, fans will have the chance to win prizes every day with baseball bingo and baseball trivia.

Friday LHP #15 Nate Smith Furman 4-2, 3.32 ERA, 59.2 IP, 19 BB, 63 K
RHP #22 Matt Pegler CofC 1-2, 3.68 ERA, 58.2 IP, 8 BB, 42 K

Saturday RHP #9 Alex Abrams Furman 3-0, 1.95 ERA, 27.2 IP, 15 BB, 21 K
LHP #30 Jake Zokan CofC 2-1, 2.80 ERA, 45.0 IP, 8 BB, 47 K

Sunday TBA Furman n/a
RHP #29 Ryan West CofC 2-1, 5.05 ERA, 35.2 IP, 17 BB, 37 K

College of Charleston is 38-16-1 against Furman all-time, with the Cougars taking a sweep at Furman last season. CofC scored 31 runs in those games last year, however, Furman was able to rally late and only lost the series by a total margin of three runs in the final two games.

Furman started the season hot with wins over Michigan State, South Carolina and Georgia, however the Paladins have stumbled in SoCon play, losing series to Davidson, Wofford and Samford.

Furman ranks in the middle of the conference in most offensive categories. Two-way player and Charleston native Alex Abrams leads the Paladins with a 3-0 record and 1.95 ERA on the mound, while he’s also hitting .333 with 21 RBI at the plate. Taylor Johnson leads the squad with 33 RBI and a .497 slugging percentage.

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 4.08. They are first in opposing batting average (.257), second in strikeout-to-walk ratio (2.32) and first in walks allowed (119).

Despite injuries and other factors affecting the Cougars’ weekend rotation, starters Matt Pegler, Jake Zokan, Nathan Helvey and Ryan West have led yet another strong pitching campaign for the Cougars. The foursome have combined for 14 quality starts (Pegler 4, Zokan 4, Helvey 5, West 1) with a combined starter ERA of 3.14 with 126 strikeouts against just 32 walks.

All season, head coach Monte Lee has preached the importance of aggressive hitting, strike-throwing and strong defense. The Cougars have been living up to the bill on defense over the past month. CofC currently ranks third in the SoCon with a fielding percentage of .966. The Cougars lead the league with just 48 steal attempts against the Cougar battery, while the CofC catchers have only one passed ball.

College of Charleston has won either the Player, Pitcher or Freshman of the Year every year in the Southern Conference dating back to 2002. With the Cougars leaving for the CAA next season, CofC freshman Nathan Helvey is the Cougars’ best bet for CofC’s 12th straight yearly award. Helvey ranks second in the league with a 2.68 ERA and third with an opponent batting average of just .230.

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 .425 since the WCU series with 27 RBI and a .726 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 is second in the SoCon with 31 walks, and now ranks second in the league with 40 RBI. His slugging percentage of .564 has cracked the SoCon’s top 10, while his on-base percentage ranks fifth in the league (.456).

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