Cougar Baseball Downs No. 12 UNC, 7-4, On Opening Day
MT. PLEASANT, S.C. – College of Charleston scored seven unanswered runs and used a brilliant relief performance from true freshman Bailey Ober to down No. 12 North Carolina, 7-4, on Opening Day at Patriots Point.
College of Charleston (1-0) has now won eight straight season openers, while the win marked the 11th victory over a ranked team in the Monte Lee era. North Carolina (0-1) advanced to the College World Series and finished in third place in 2013.
Ober (1-0) entered in the fifth inning after starter Nathan Helvey surrendered four runs in the fourth frame to the Tar Heels. Ober proceeded to shut down UNC, retiring 13 straight hitters until the ninth inning when he allowed two singles. A native of Huntersville, N.C., he finished with four strikeouts and no walks in five shutout innings for the win in his first collegiate appearance.
North Carolina starter Benton Moss was tagged with four of the CofC runs in the fifth, while reliever Reilly Hovis (0-1) surrendered the final run in that inning and two more in the seventh to get tagged with the loss.
College of Charleston started slow, not recording a hit until the top of the fifth inning when Carl Wise hit a liner down the third-base line. He finished the game with three hits and two RBIs.
The Cougars then exploded with five runs in the sixth inning, taking advantage of an error by UNC first baseman Joe Dudek and a miscommunication on a trailing fly ball that fell just inside the right field line with the bases loaded. After an RBI sacrifice fly from Ben Boykin made it a 4-2 game, redshirt-junior Brandon Glazer launched a three-run opposite field home run to give the Cougars a 5-4 lead and excite the crowd of 976 fans.
Ober continued his strong work after the big home run, as he helped blank the heart of UNC’s lineup with Skye Bolt, Michael Russell, Parks Jordan and Joe Dudek all failing to record a hit.
Sophomore Blake Butler added insurance for CofC in the seventh with an RBI triple to right field. Wise delivered a two-out RBI hit off the leg of UNC’s pitcher to score Butler and make it 7-4.
The Tar Heels threatened in the ninth inning with two singles by Wood Myers and Tom Zengel. Pinch-hitter Zach Daly then lined a ball into center field but sophomore Morgan Phillips, who had just entered as a defensive replacement, made a diving catch that saved two runs. Ober then struck out Ramirez and the Cougars celebrated the 7-4 win.
College of Charleston will face the Tar Heels tomorrow at 2 p.m. at Patriots Point. CofC’s Taylor Clarke will do battle with UNC’s Trent Thornton.
Head Coach Monte Lee
“I’m very happy for Bailey Ober. I don’t think that I could have asked for anything more out of a true freshman. We feel good about him and what he’s going to do for us, and to see him do that in that situation was pretty incredible. His poise, his composure and ability to come in and throw three pitches for strikes against a great opponent like North Carolina was really impressive.”
“It’s great to get a win on Opening Day. But our goal is to win this series. Game two tomorrow is even more important because we are trying to win the series tomorrow. We know that North Carolina is going to make some adjustments, and I’m sure they’re going to be ready to go. They’re going to try to even the series tomorrow. I’m anxious to see how we’re going to respond after a big win, and I’m pretty confident that our guys are going to be ready to go.”
College of Charleston has now won eight straight season openers dating back to 2005. The series was scheduled to be played in Chapel Hill, but moved to Charleston due to wintry conditions in North Carolina.
Saturday marked CofC’s first win over North Carolina in the all-time series. CofC is now 1-2 against the Tar Heels. The win was also the 11th win over a ranked team in Monte Lee’s six-year tenure.
North Carolina natives Blake Butler and Bailey Ober had big games against the representative of their home state. Ober picked up his first collegiate win with five scoreless innings of relief, while Butler scored two runs on two hits, including his third career triple, while batting in the leadoff spot.
UNC’s top returning hitters Landon Lassiter, Skye Bolt, Michael Russell and Parks Jordan combined to go 1-for-14 at the plate.
After starting 0-for-12 through the first four innings, CofC’s hitters finished with an 8-for-20 performance with seven runs, four walks and seven RBIs in the final five frames.
Brandon Glazer returned to the lineup in a big way after only playing in seven games in 2013 with a season-ending foot injury. He had finished the 2012 season with four home runs in four games.