The no. 32 Cougars made a clean sweep of their first games of the season this weekend as they took on the University of Southern Alabama.
The score remained nil-nil for most of the game as the College’s Josh Renfro (Bradenton, FL) and USA’s Jarron Cito only allowed 3 and 4 hits respectively for the first five innings of the game. It wasn’t until the top of the sixth that the Cougars were able to get themselves on the board, accomplishing this with a single by Rob Harding (Columbia, SC) that drove in Marty Gantt (North Augusta, SC).
Their lead was short lived as the Jaguars quickly reciprocated. USA’s Nick Zaharian ‘s hit led to two unearned runs being grabbed by the team, giving them the lead as they made their way into the top of the 7th. The score remained 2-1 throughout the seventh, with each team leaving a man on base as the offense changed hands.
The top of the eighth saw the College make a grand comeback, scoring three and decidedly turning the game in their favor. Harding and Brandon Murray (Nassau, Bahamas) both made it to base after being hit by the pitch, and it was Cody Martin’s (Marianna, FL) substitution for Jimmy Holton (West Palm Beach, FL) and subsequent first home run of the season that earned the team three runs, putting them over the Jaguars with a score of 4-2.
David Peterson (Walnut Creek, CA) earned his first save of the season after replacing inning 7 pitcher Kyle Owings (Gilbert, SC) by striking out two batters in the eighth and allowing no runs. Daniel Aldrich (Mount Pleasant, SC), recently named to the Golden Spikes Award Preseason Watch List, earned his first RBI of the season at the top of the ninth by extending the Cougar’s lead with a double that ran in Gantt. A grounded ball, a pop fly, and a strike out finished out the game for the teams, the College earning their first season win 5-2.
Head Coach Monte Lee said of the game, “It was an overall great effort by our guys… The two heroes of the night were Renfro, who was outstanding on the mound, and Martin with his pinch-hit home run. We played solid defensively with just the one error leading to their two runs. David Peterson did a great job of coming in his first career save opportunity and finishing the game.”
With Saturday’s game rained out, the College was forced into a double header on Tuesday, with the nine inning game beginning at 12 and the 7 inning at 3:30. The game commenced with Matt Pegler (Greenville, SC) at the mound. Leaving three men on base at the top of the first, the Cougars were already on unstable ground from the get go. South Alabama took advantage of this, earning three runs, one unearned, in bottom of the first, giving them the immediate lead give them the advantage all the way through the fifth inning. Brandon Glazer’s (Hagerstown, MD) sacrifice fly in the third and a single by Martin in the top of the fifth edged the cougars closer to claiming the lead, making the score 3-2. Pegler kept the Jaguars at bay at the bottom of the fifth, allowing for the College’s 4 run inning at the top of the sixth. Gantt’s double earned him two RBIs and two runs for the team, Harding’s double bringing another two runs to the team, making them 6-3. Peterson would once again take the save as USA’s batters all grounded out in the ninth.
The Cougars closed out the weekend with a bang, shutting down Southern Alabama with a 3-0 win. Christian Powell (Greenwood, SC) opened up as pitcher in the bottom of the first. The Cougar’s took the lead early, a single by Holton allowing Murray to score. Powell kept the Jaguars off the scoreboard as the Cougar’s went on to gain another run in the fourth thanks to Aldrich’s first home run of the season. A wild pitch by USA pitcher Jaime Dennis in sixth brought Harding, ensuring the College of their 3-0 victory. Dre Watts (Laurens, SC) took home the save upon subbing for Powell in the seventh, striking out one batter with another hitting a pop fly and a third grounding out.
Lee said of the double header, “I was very proud of our pitching…We only gave up two earned runs and our bullpen was outstanding. We need to be a little better in RBI situations, and our infield defense played well but still has room to improve. If we pitch the way we did this weekend, we can win a lot of baseball games. It’s always great to open the season with a sweep on the road.”
To come see the team in their home opener, be sure to make it out to Patriots Point for the Cougar Invitational, where CofC will face off against Rhode Island at 5 on Fri, Connecticut at 5 on Sat, and Xavier at 3 on Sun.