With a team batting average that ranks 213th in the nation, the College of Charleston did not win 44 games on the heels of dominant bats.
That showed Saturday afternoon.
The Cougars were shutout by Texas Tech, 1-0, in their Super Regional series opener in Lubbock, Texas, failing to capitalize on another impressive postseason start by Taylor Clarke.
The sophomore 10-game winner pitched all eight innings for Charleston, allowing just a single run in the third inning. After the TTU triple that scored the Red Raiders’ only run, Clarke settled down to put out the next 10 batters he faced, giving the Cougars every opportunity to even the one-run deficit.
The lack of hits (four total) did not help the Cougars, but it was not their ultimate downfall. Poor base running by Brandon Glazer was a key factor in the loss. Not once, but twice was Glazer tagged out at the plate trying to score a run.
In the third inning, Glazer doubled to lead off the inning for Charleston’s first hit of the ballgame. After a sacrifice bunt by Ryan Welke, Glazer sat on third with one out. Champ Rowland then grounded to the shortstop, but Glazer hesitated on his release from third, making the tag out an easy one for TTU star catcher Hunter Redman, who was drafted in the eighth round by the Los Angeles Dodgers on Friday.
It must have been nothing short of deja vu for head coach Monte Lee in the eighth inning. After Glazer reached second base on an error to open the inning, Welke once again laid down a nice sac bunt to move Glazer to third. Rowland then chopped a soft hit ball, which the TTU pitcher fielded and flipped to Redman to tag Glazer out at the plate again, albeit a closer play the second time around.
No matter how close the second tag out was, it doesn’t erase the poor decision making by the Cougars right fielder.
It is easy to blame Glazer for his team’s loss, but it probably isn’t fair, as TTU starter Chris Sadberry struck out a career-high nine batters in a career-long eight innings to hold Charleston off. The Cougars are now one loss from elimination and need their bats to stave off the end of their magical run.
Saturday’s loss also marked the return of Charleston’s leading hitter, Gunnar Heidt, who has been injured since taking a pitch off his hand in early May. Heidt went 0-3 at the plate, but with a .325 average, he is a welcomed addition to a lineup that is in need of some fire power.
Heidt was drafted on Saturday in the 13th round of the MLB Draft by Toronto. He is the 14th Charleston player drafted in Monte Lee’s six years as head coach.
Newly-minted Freshman All-American Bailey Ober takes the mound tomorrow in game two. The rookie standout has been nothing short of remarkable during the 2014 season, beginning with his five innings of shutout relief to beat UNC during the season opening series and more recently with his two wins in postseason play.
Ober finished second in the voting for national Freshmen Pitcher of the Year and was invited by USA Baseball to their training camp on June 19. The Cougars will need all that talent to combat a talented Texas Tech lineup, one that features five players batting above .290.
Sunday’s game two matchup begins at 3 p.m. on ESPNU nationally and ESPN 910 radio locally.