COLLEGE OF CHARLESTON (0-0) vs. XAVIER (0-0)
February 15, 2013 • 6:00 p.m. (ET)
February 16, 2013 • 2:00 p.m. (ET)
February 17, 2013 • 1:00 p.m. (ET)
Patriots Point (2,000)
Series History: CofC Leads 6-0
Last Meeting: CofC def. Xavier, 4-1, Feb. 26, 2012 at Patriots Point
Internet: Live Pay-Per-View Video at www.CofCSports.com
Broadcast Team: Jeff McCarragher, Rob Harding, Dennis Trapani
College of Charleston: Monte Lee
Fifth Year at CofC: 156-85 (.647)
Fifth Year Overall: Same
Xavier: Scott Googins
Eighth Year at Xavier: 198-207 (.488)
Eighth Year Overall: Same
Day Name Team 2012 Stats
Friday RHP #15 Vinny Nittoli Xavier 4-5, 3.94 ERA, 77.2 IP, 32 BB, 43
RHP #22 Matt Pegler CofC 10-2, 2.83 ERA, 89.0 IP, 20 BB, 66 K
Saturday LHP #33 Jon Richard Xavier 5-5, 5.15 ERA, 87.1 IP, 23 BB, 51 K
LHP #30 Jake Zokan CofC 1-0, 5.11 ERA, 12.1 IP, 6 BB, 7 K
Sunday RHP #17 Tyler Koors Xavier 2-6, 5.14 ERA, 70.0 IP, 28 BB, 47 K
RHP #20 Nathan Helvey CofC N/A
College of Charleston kicks off the 2013 campaign at home with high expectations yet again. The Cougars will face Xavier for the second year in a row with games slated for 6 p.m., 2 p.m. and 1 p.m. at Patriots Point.
The Cougars are coming off a very successful year in 2012 by tying for first place in the SoCon regular season and earning an at-large bid to the NCAA Tournament. The Cougars also posted signature victories at then-no. 8 South Carolina and at Clemson, while defeating rival Coastal Carolina at home.
College of Charleston will have to replace a number of key pieces to last year’s squad, including the 2012 SoCon Player of the Year in Marty Gantt and the 2012 Pitcher of the Year, Christian Powell. Six players from last year’s team signed professional contracts as Gantt, Powell and David Peterson were drafted in the seventh and eighth rounds, while Josh Renfro, Kyle Owings and Daniel Aldrich signed free agent contracts.
However, with six position players returning and two veterans in the weekend rotation, head coach Monte Lee is confident this year’s team will again push for a 40-win season and be a major contender for an NCAA regional berth.
College of Charleston will kick off the 2013 season with Friday and Sunday’s games being broadcast over the Charleston Sports Network on CofCSports.com. “Voice of the Cougars” Jeff McCarragher will provide play-by-play on Friday along with former player Rob Harding. Fans can sign up for individual games or season-long packages on CofCSports.com under the Multimedia tab.
SERIES VS. XAVIER
College of Charleston is 6-0 all-time against Xavier. The Cougars defeated the Musketeers 4-1 last season at Patriots Point (2/26) as Matt Pegler took a no-hitter into the seventh inning. Marty Gantt scored three runs in the victory.
College of Charleston is a perfect 12-0 in season-opening series under head coach Monte Lee. CofC has not lost on opening day since 2005 when No. 30 ECU won 9-6 in extra innings.
Last season, the Cougars needed a three-run pinch-hit home run from Cody Martin in the eighth inning in order to secure a 5-2 win in the first game of the season at South Alabama.
SCOUTING THE MUSKETEERS
Xavier comes into 2013 after a .500 season last year, going 28-28 overall and 13-11 in conference play. The Musketeers were picked to finish seventh in the Atlantic 10 preseason coaches poll.
Xavier returns all eight starting position players and 13 pitchers from last season’s staff. Mark Elwell posted a team-high .329 batting average with 29 RBI and 22 runs scored. Vinny Nittoli returns as the top pitcher after a 4-5 season with a 3.94 ERA last year.
PREVIEWING THE FIELD
Although College of Charleston will have to replace the production of Marty Gantt (.373/11/46) and Daniel Aldrich (.287/11/46) in the batting lineup, head coach Monte Lee believes this team will have more offensive balance from top to bottom.
Last season’s home run leader Brandon Murray returns to his spot in left field. He finished the season on an 11-game hitting streak, including seven multiple-hit games. Murray hit 12 home runs and finished second on the team with a batting average of .330. He earned All-SoCon second team honors last season and will look to be a big bat in the middle of the lineup.
Joining Murray in the outfield will be classmate Brandon Glazer and redshirt-freshman Morgan Phillips. Glazer worked his way into the starting lineup last year after doing so well at the designated hitter spot. He finished the season playing third base and hitting .313 with seven home runs, four of which came in the season’s final week. Phillips will see his first action for CofC after sitting out 2012. He was a 17th round draft pick of the Reds out of high school in New York City in 2011. His strength and speed will become a valuable asset in center field.
The Cougars’ starting infield in 2013 all boast big-game experience from last year. Sophomores Gunnar Heidt and Devon Reed each improved over the course of the year with stronger plate appearances and defensive prowess, while seniors Bradley Goodson and Tyler Jackson boasted power bats at the plate. Goodson earned All-SoCon second team honors last year after hitting .276 with eight home runs and 42 RBI. Jackson was sixth on the team with six home runs and 23 runs driven in. The infield defense should be improved after a strong offseason emphasis after CofC committed 58 infield errors last year.
Both catchers, Ryan Welke and Jimmy Holton, return this season after splitting time in 2012. Holton made the majority of the starts and hit .150 with eight RBI, while Welke recorded five RBI and nine hits.
CofC will look have good bats off the bench led by transfer Ben Boykin from Spartanburg Methodist. Boykin hit .331 at SMC and was a First Team All-Region honoree. Returning senior Cody Martin can play first base or the outfield, while freshman Carl Wise could also see early playing time.
PREVIEWING THE PITCHERS
The CofC pitching staff will have more holes to fill this year than the offense after losing two weekend starters and two of the top relievers in the SoCon, all to minor league baseball contracts. Last season, the Cougars led the SoCon in ERA (3.21), opposing batting average (.241), and walks allowed (182) and were second in strikeouts (482).
Returning starter Matt Pegler has earned well-deserved preseason accolades after going 10-2 with a 2.83 ERA last season. He earned NCAA Gainesville All-Regional honors after pitching a complete game two-hitter against Bethune-Cookman. He will get the starting nod for Friday nights this season after pitching mainly on Sunday last year.
Senior Jake Zokan will start on Saturdays in the spring in his first weekend starting role. Zokan was 4-2 with a 3.54 ERA back in 2011 in a midweek role, but he struggled with arm tenderness last season and only made two starts late in the season.
Freshman Nathan Helvey will get the nod as the Sunday starter, hoping to follow in Pegler’s successful footprint from last season. A Fort Mill, S.C., native, Helvey has earned praise from the coaching staff for his strong performances this past fall.
Last year’s midweek starter Ryan West will move to the bullpen for his final season to add leadership and strike-throwing ability for late-game situations. He will be joined by fellow seniors Dre Watts and Drew Freie as the Cougars’ main bullpen arms. Watts will start the season as the team’s closer, while Freie will look to be a setup option. Watts had a 2.70 ERA in 14 appearances last season, while Freie allowed just 10 earned runs in 24.1 innings.