MT. PLEASANT, S.C. - College of Charleston jumped out to an early lead yet again and Cougar starter Christian Powell shut down The Citadel en route to a 7-2 series-clinching win at Patriots Point on Saturday.
The Cougars used solo home runs from Marty Gantt and Brandon Murray in the first inning to take a lead that they would never relinquish thanks to strong pitching and outstanding defensive play.
College of Charleston (28-12, 16-7) has now won four straight home series and have won seven of the last eight games. The Citadel moved to 17-23 and 7-10 in the Southern Conference.
Gantt continued his outstanding week by going 3-for-3 with a home run, double and two runs scored. He was also intentionally walked twice and made a spectacular diving grab in center field to keep the Bulldogs off the board in the fifth inning. Dating back to the South Carolina game, Gantt has hit .538 with four doubles, a home run, four RBI, three stolen bases and a slugging percentage of 1.077.
Powell (7-2) earned his seventh win of the season with by going 7.0 innings, allowing just four hits, one run and striking out four. Kyle Owings struck out two with an inning of relief in the eighth inning while David Peterson and Drew Freie pitched the ninth inning.
Murray also had a strong game for the Cougars, tallying three RBI including his first inning solo home run. Bradley Goodson and Devon Reed also tallied RBIs.
Citadel starter Kevin Connell (1-3) allowed six runs, five earned, in just five innings of work. Drew DeKerlegand and Nick Orvin each tallied RBI for The Citadel's two runs.
The Cougars scored first for the 25th time this season with a pair of solo home runs in the first inning from Gantt and Murray.
The Citadel responded with a sacrifice fly from DeKerlegand in the top of the second, but the Cougars responded with another run in the bottom of the second. Gunnar Heidt reached on a fielding error by the Bulldogs and eventually came around to score on a two-out single from Goodson to make the lead 3-1.
Both pitchers settled down after the second inning neither team scored until the sixth. Powell was helped by spectacular defensive plays in the fifth and sixth innings to work out of jams. With runners on the corners with two out in the fifth, Mason Davis hit a line drive to the gap, but Gantt laid out full extension to make the grab and end the inning.
In the sixth inning with a runner on second, Goodson dove to his left and threw across his body to get DeKerlegand for the last out and end the Bulldog threat.
The Cougars exploded for three runs in the sixth inning that put the game out of reach. CofC led off the inning with singles from Brandon Glazer and Heidt and Devon Reed singled in a run. A two-out single from Murray scored two more runs, and the Cougars led The Citadel, 6-1.
Gantt added another run for College of Charleston in the eighth inning with a leadoff double and a steal of third base before Goodson singled him in.
The Bulldogs added one run in the ninth inning, but Freie came in to relieve Peterson and induced two flyouts to end the game.
Before the contest, the College of Charleston inducted former standouts Chris Campbell ‘07 and Nick Chigges ‘07 into the CofC Baseball Wall of Fame.
The final game of the series is currently scheduled for Sunday, April 22 at 1 p.m.