Charleston Hosts Radford In A Non-Conference Series

MT. PLEASANT, SC April 26, 2013 - College of Charleston (22-18) continues its seven-game homestand with a non-conference series against Radford (23-17) this weekend. CofC will play a double-header starting at 2 p.m. on Saturday with the second game going seven innings. Sunday’s finale will begin at noon.

Charleston is coming off a 14-2 win over rival Coastal Carolina on Tuesday evening. Three players, Blake Butler, Gunnar Heidt and Cody Martin, tallied four hits in the contest. The Cougars tied a season high with 19 hits which was the most given up by CCU’s pitching staff all season.

CofC baseball

Senior Drew Freie made his first career start and picked up his fourth win of the season.

The CofC offense has come alive after a slow start to the 2013 campaign. Since the Davidson series, CofC is hitting .338 with 9.0 runs per game. In those eight games, all but two starters are hitting over .300 and the team boasts a slugging percentage of .523.

After Sunday’s game, College of Charleston will be teaming with Vs. Cancer to raise money for childhood cancer research as team members shave their heads in solidarity with cancer patients. Marketing staff will be collecting donations for the cause throughout the weekend.

The weekend series will be broadcast through the Charleston Sports Network on

This weekend the Cougars will continue to raise money for childhood cancer research with donations being accepted at each game. On Sunday, the North Charleston High School band will be in attendance at the season finale, and the team will be shaving its head directly after the game’s conclusion.

Baseball bingo will be played all weekend and fans will have a chance to win prizes with trivia each game. The Cougar Club will be holding a tailgate in the parking lot before Sunday’s game.

Saturday RHP Tyler Costello Radford 3-3, 4.12 ERA, 59.0 IP, 19 BB, 33 K
LHP #30 Jake Zokan CofC 2-1, 2.47 ERA, 51.0 IP, 9 BB, 54 K

Saturday LHP Michael Boyle Radford 4-1, 4.11 ERA, 46.0 IP, 28 BB, 31 K RHP #29 Ryan West CofC 3-1, 4.32 ERA, 41.2 IP, 17 BB, 47 K

Sunday RHP Keith Fritz Radford 2-2, 4.85 ERA, 42.2 IP, 9 BB, 19 K
RHP #22 Matt Pegler CofC 1-2, 4.31 ERA, 64.2 IP, 9 BB, 48 K

College of Charleston is 4-0-1 vs. Radford all-time. The Cougars swept a season-opening series against the Highlanders back in 2010 by a combined run total of 28-8. The Cougars are 3-1 against Big South teams this season.

Radford snapped a five-game losing streak by taking two of three from Coastal Carolina in Big South action last weekend. However, RU lost North Carolina A&T on Wednesday night as they head to Charleston with a bitter taste.

The Highlanders hit .269 as a team and average 5.9 runs per game. The weekend starting rotation has a combined 4.33 ERA and a 1.48 strikeout-to-walk ratio. The offense is led by Jeff Kemp who sports a .302 batting average and 10 homers and 12 doubles.

College of Charleston surprised many with its dominating pitching staff which led the SoCon in multiple categories in 2012. With five pitchers of that staff departed, including four to the minor leagues, some expected 2013 to be a rebuilding year for CofC pitching. However, this season the Cougars are second in the conference with a staff ERA of 4.10. They are first in opposing batting average (.260), first in strikeout-to-walk ratio (2.45) and first in walks allowed (126).

Despite injuries and other factors affecting the Cougars’ weekend rotation, starters Matt Pegler, Jake Zokan, Nathan Helvey and Ryan West have led yet another strong pitching campaign for the Cougars. The foursome have combined for 16 quality starts (Pegler 4, Zokan 5, Helvey 5, West 2) with a combined starter ERA of 3.18 with 149 strikeouts against just 34 walks for K-to-BB ratio of 4.38.

Zokan currently leads the SoCon with a 2.47 ERA, while Helvey is second with a 2.68 ERA. Helvey is also second in opposing batting average (.230), while Zokan is third in strikeouts looking. Ryan West has only allowed five earned in his four starts this season, which have come in the last month.

All season, head coach Monte Lee has preached the importance of aggressive hitting, strike-throwing and strong defense. The Cougars have been living up to the bill on defense over the past month. CofC currently ranks second in the SoCon with a fielding percentage of .966. The Cougars lead the league with just 54 steal attempts against the Cougar battery, while the CofC catchers have only one passed ball.

College of Charleston has won either the Player, Pitcher or Freshman of the Year every year in the Southern Conference dating back to 2002. With the Cougars leaving for the CAA next season, CofC freshman Nathan Helvey is the Cougars’ best bet for CofC’s 12th straight yearly award. Helvey ranks second in the league with a 2.68 ERA and second with an opponent batting average of just .230.

Brandon Murray started the season with big expectations after leading the team in home runs last season, but his preseason accolades did not translate to on-field production during the first month. However, Murray has begun to find a groove as he has hit .402 since the WCU series with 29 RBI and a .698 slugging percentage.

Murray was named the Louisville Slugger National Player of the Week after he set a new school record with nine RBI in a single game at Davidson. He hit a grand slam, a three-run HR and a two-run double in the game. The nine RBI was the third-most by an NCAA player in a single game in 2013. Murray is second in the SoCon with 33 walks, and now ranks fourth in the league with 42 RBI. He is hitting .432 against SoCon competition which is currently second in the league.

Sophomore shortstop Gunnar Heidt, one of only two true sophomores on the roster, has been an important returner for the Cougars infield and batting lineup. He was recently named the SoCon Player of the Month for March.

Heidt has a team-high .346 batting average with 36 runs scored and a SoCon-high five triples, which currently ties him for seventh nationally. He has a .525 slugging percentage with 40 RBIs. He knocked the first walk-off hit of his career in the 10th inning against UNCG, winning that game 3-2.

Junior transfer Ben Boykin has made the most of his opportunities at the plate this season. Boykin is second on the team with a .324 batting average and a .493 slugging percentage. He leads the team with 12 doubles and has become the team’s power-hitting designated hitter. He drove in the winning run in the 11th inning at Samford and came home to score an insurance run on a safety squeeze. He hit his third homer of the season against UNCG.

College of Charleston has surprised some with the trust that the coaching staff has put in true freshmen. At this point in the season, Alex Pastorius, Blake Butler and Carl Wise have all become everyday starters in the field for Coach Lee.

Pastorius has made a number of spectacular defensive plays in right field while hitting .276 with a .387 on-base percentage. He has nine doubles on the season and has scored 23 runs, despite missing the last week with a minor injury.

Butler has started every game at second base since the second weekend of the season. He tallied a season high in RBI vs. CCU (4) and sports a .424 on-base percentage. Since the Davidson series, Butler has hit .500 with 13 runs and a .676 slugging percentage.

Wise just recently became an everyday starter for the Cougars as he has played either first or third base each of the last 11 games. In that stretch, Wise has hit safely every game and tallied a batting average of .400 with four extra-base hits.

Redshirt-freshman Morgan Phillips has joined with the three true freshman to be a powerful youth movement in the CofC lineup after the season started. Phillips hit his first career home run at Davidson, and followed it up with another homer the next day. He is hitting .253 with 14 extra-base hits and 19 runs scored this year.

College of Charleston has played 22 games that have either been decided or one-run games in the seventh inning or later. The Cougars are 10-12 in these close games so far this season. The Cougars went to extra innings three times in the last two weeks, defeating UNCG but falling to Coastal Carolina and Davidson in extras. Charleston is 3-7 in one-run games and 2-3 in extra-inning games this season. Cougar relief pitchers have accounted for 22 decisions this year, going 12-10 as a bullpen.

College of Charleston has shown great patience at the plate so far this year, drawing 183 walks and posting a team on-base percentage of .372. The Cougars lead the SoCon in walks, while Brandon Murray (34) is second in the league individually. College of Charleston has drawn 12 walks in a game on two occasions this season, including against The Citadel (3/20).

While the Cougars have seemingly battled bad weather on Friday nights this season, the team has also had to battle some rough performances. The Cougars are 5-6 in the first games of series with a .267 batting average and a 4.81 staff ERA. Compare those numbers to the final games of series, where the Cougars are 7-2 with 6.6 runs per game and an ERA of 3.18.

Last season, College of Charleston was a remarkable 31-3 when leading after the fourth inning and 3-17 when trailing after the fourth. Despite a number of close games, that trend has continued in 2013. The Cougars are 18-4 when holding a lead after the fourth, and 2-12 when trailing after the fourth inning.

College of Charleston baseball players will be shaving their heads for Vs. Cancer this season, a foundation aimed at raising funds for childhood cancer research. The head shaving will take place after Sunday’s noon game against Radford.

The Saturday Radford doubleheader will now begin at 2 p.m. after a recent time change. The second game of the day will be a seven-inning contest.

Michael "Beach Mick" Hudson

About the Author:

Michael "Beach Mick" Hudson is the founder and Editor of Beach Carolina Magazine. Living along the coast of North Carolina, Mike has a passion for the beach and loves to bring news and events of the Carolinas to others around the world.

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