MT. PLEASANT, S.C. - College of Charleston scored three runs in the bottom of the eighth inning to defeat Xavier, 6-3, in the opening game of the 2013 season.
Redshirt-freshman Morgan Phillips broke a 3-3 tie with a hard hit ball off of the second baseman that bounced into center field, scoring Bradley Goodson from second. Another error from Xavier right fielder Daniel Przeniczny allowed Phillips to score, and Brandon Murray singled to center field to cap off the three-run inning.
The Cougar pitching staff combined for 13 strikeouts and just two walks, allowing only six hits and one earned run. Junior Michael Hanzlik (1-0) picked up the win for the Cougars, going 1.1 innings and striking out two of the four batters he faced. Senior Dre Watts (1) struck out two in the ninth inning for his first save of the season.
Charleston starter Matt Pegler pitched five innings and struck out six batters for a no decision in his first start on Friday night. The Greenville, S.C., native scattered four hits and allowed just one unearned run.
Xavier's Alex Westrick (0-1) was tagged with the loss as he gave up all three unearned runs in the eighth inning. Musketeers' starter Vinny Nittoli allowed three runs on three hits through the first 4.1 innings. Xavier's Mark Elwell accounted for all three Musketeer runs.
"Our pitching staff did a nice job of throwing strikes and only allowed two walks," head coach Monte Lee said. "We left too many guys on base and need to do better at driving guys in. We also need to play more consistently on defense."
Evidence of early season jitters were apparent as the teams combined for five errors, while Xavier allowed 13 free passes.
College of Charleston got on the board first with a three-run third inning. CofC loaded the bases with one out after walks from Brandon Glazer and Ben Boykin. Tyler Jackson hit a laser right past the first baseman's glove to score two runs. Goodson then hit a sacrifice fly to right to score Boykin and put the Cougars up, 3-0.
The Musketeers struck for one run in the fifth inning on a bunt single from Elwell that died between the mound and third base. Xavier tied the game in the top of the seventh with a two-RBI single from Elwell to right field.
Phillips' big swing and the Xavier error in the eighth inning gave College of Charleston its second-straight dramatic finish to a season opener. Last season, the Cougars used a three-run pinch-hit homer from Cody Martin in the eighth inning to defeat South Alabama. College of Charleston has now won eight straight season-opening games.
Game two of the series has been moved up an hour to 1 p.m. due to impending weather in the area. College of Charleston's Jake Zokan is slated to pitch against Xavier's Jon Richard.