For the first time in College of Charleston baseball history, the team swept a series with three consecutive walk-off victories, winning three extra inning games against Bethune Cookman University over the weekend.
While the Cougars’ pitchers were on point throughout the weekend, they worked with a lack of run support as their offense scored just six runs through the three games.
The runs, however, came when Charleston needed them the most.
On Friday evening, a sacrifice fly by first baseman Carl Wise tied the score at one in the eighth inning. RHP Michael Hanzlik then escaped a ninth inning jam to preserve the tie, but the Cougars went down in order in the bottom of the inning to send the game to extras.
After Hanzlik pitched a perfect top of the 10th, second baseman Blake Butler singled to give Charleston a baserunner for Wise. The first baseman then sent a liner into the right field gap to score Butler and give the Cougars a 2-1 win.
Although he did not get the win, RHP Taylor Clarke pitched his sixth quality start of the season, going six innings and striking out a career-high nine batters.
Saturday’s matchup saw a bit more offense, as the Cougars took a 2-0 lead courtesy of RBI singles from Nick Pappas and Bradley Jones.
A throwing error by second baseman Gunnar Heidt allowed two runs to score for BCU, tying the game at two.
Things looked bleak in the ninth inning when Hanzlik, making his second straight appearance, gave up a run to give BCU a 3-2 lead.
Right fielder Brandon Glazer bailed Hanzlik out, however, launching a solo home run with one out in the bottom of the inning to keep the Cougars alive.
Hanzlik recovered to pitch a scoreless 10th inning, setting up Saturday night’s dramatics.
On the first pitch of bottom of the 10th, Butler powered a home run to dead center field to give Charleston their first walk-off home run since 2005. Butler’s bomb is only the third walk-off homer in Charleston baseball history.
RHP Bailey Ober pitched his team-best seventh quality start, going six-plus innings and giving up just one earned run.
In the series finale on Sunday, it looked as if Charleston would be able to escape without needing extra baseball, until BCU took a 2-1 lead with a two-run homer in the eighth inning.
Needing another late game comeback, first baseman Nick Pappas hit a sacrifice fly in the bottom of the eighth to tie the score at two.
Reliever Eric Bauer replaced starter Tyler Thorton in the ninth to blank BCU, but the Cougars were unable to end the game in the bottom of the inning.
Things got dicey for Charleston in the top of the 10th inning. After center fielder Morgan Phillips made a great diving play to save a double, Bauer overthrew Pappas at first base in what should have been a routine third out. With BCU’s inning still alive and the runner advancing to second, Bauer struck out his next batter to keep the score tied.
After a scoreless bottom of the 10th, the Cougars converted a double play in the top of the 11th inning to kill any BCU momentum.
In the bottom of the 11th, Pappas doubled with one out to put the potential game-winning run on base. After a walk by Erven Roper, Glazer showed he still had the flare for the dramatics, singling home Pappas for a 3-2 victory.
“When you do that one time, and I told the club this after Friday night’s game, you’re going to believe you have the upper hand when you are in that situation again. It just so happens we were in that situation on Saturday and then we were in that situation again [on Sunday]. I’m proud of our guys, but obviously I’d like to get some more run support early in the ballgame,” head coach Monte Lee said.
With three straight walk-off wins in extra innings, Lee said he does not remember seeing anything quite like this weekend.
“I have never seen this. Not as a player and not as a coach. And I don’t know if I’ve seen two [games] where it went your way. I’ve seen back-to-back or multiple games, but usually you’ll split and don’t win them all. To win three games like this, our guys must be doing something right,” Lee said.
The Cougars are back to CAA play next weekend when they travel up to Wilmington to face the Seahawks in a three game set.