CULLOWHEE, N.C. -Daniel Aldrich hit a career-best three home runs to lead College of Charleston over Western Carolina, 5-4, in the first game of the weekend series.
Aldrich, who hit a two-run home run in CofC's win over No. 8 South Carolina, set a new career high by launching three long balls and accounting for all five Cougar runs. Aldrich's five RBIs was also a career high as he doubled his season home run total with the three long balls.
College of Charleston (30-12, 18-7) has now won six games in a row, the longest winning streak of the season. Western Carolina fell to 26-16 and 10-9 in conference play.
Christian Powell (8-2) made his first start of the season on a Friday night and picked up his league-leading eighth win of the season. Powell went 7.0 innings, allowing three runs and seven hits while striking out five Catamounts. Nick Osterman pitched a perfect eighth inning, and David Peterson tallied his 10th save of the year to league the conference.
Marty Gantt tallied a single, two walks and a run to extend his hitting streak to 10 games, tying his previous career long.
The Catamounts used a stellar performance from Preseason All-Conference selection Ross Heffley as he launched two home runs, including one that tied the game in the fifth inning.
The Catamounts nearly overcame a two-run deficit in the ninth inning as they loaded the bases with one out. Leadoff batter Bradley Strong was hit by a pitch to score a run and put the game-winning run on second base. However, Peterson struck out Heffley and induced Cody Jones to ground out to end the game.
Western Carolina got on the board first with a solo home run from Heffley in the bottom of the first inning. The Catamounts loaded the bases with one out and Jacob Hoyle batted in another run with a sacrifice fly to right field to put WCU up 2-0.
Aldrich answered the call in the next half inning with a solo home run to right field in his first at bat. After Powell set down the Cougars in the bottom of the second, Gantt walked and Aldrich homered to right center with two outs to put CofC up 3-2.
Heffley tied the game again in the bottom of the fifth inning with a solo homer to an identical spot as his first shot over the left field wall.
Aldrich then played the hero in the top of the eighth inning as he hit a towering bomb over the batter's eye in dead center, scoring Brandon Murray to make the score 5-3.
Osterman set the Catamounts down in the eighth inning thanks to a double play by Gunnar Heidt and Bradley Goodson. Western Carolina threatened to win in walk-off fashion as they loaded the bases with one out in the bottom of the ninth inning after scoring a run to make it 5-4. However, Heffley struck out looking and Peterson induced a groundout to end the game.
Despite the Cougars top 10 national ranking in team home runs, Aldrich's three homers marked the first time that any Cougar player has hit multiple home runs in a game this season.
The Cougars will continue the series tomorrow with a 1 p.m. start against the Catamounts.