After Friday night’s opening day victory over South Carolina, the College of Charleston had a big opportunity to win the three-game series with a victory in one of two Saturday games. There was just one thing missing for the Cougars: their ace.
Charleston’s National Freshman of the Year, Bailey Ober, sat the series out with shoulder tightness and was sorely missed on Saturday, as South Carolina swept the doubleheader by the final scores of 7-1 and 8-3.
The Cougars’ other 10-game winner from 2014, Taylor Clarke, pitched well on Friday night and earned his first victory of the season against a major opponent, much like his performance in last year’s NCAA Tournament. The only difference was that Ober was not waiting to pitch game two, eliminating the deadly one-two punch that could rival any college pitching staff in the country.
Nathan Helvey started in Ober’s place and struggled against the powerful Gamecocks lineup. He walked five batters and allowed five runs in just four innings of work during Charleston’s 7-1 loss in the opening game of the doubleheader.
South Carolina’s starter, Wil Crowe, pitched well, scattering four hits over 6.1 innings and striking out 10 batters. One can only imagine the pitching duel fans could have seen on Saturday afternoon if Ober took the mound for the Cougars.
Game two of the doubleheader showed more promise for Charleston. Nick Pappas launched a two-run homer in the first inning to give the Cougars an early lead.
Starter Eric Bauer settled in quickly, blanking the Gamecocks through three innings. He hit a rough patch in the fourth, allowing three runs on three hits to give South Carolina a 3-2 lead.
Charleston tied the game in the top of the sixth with a bases loaded walk by Champ Rowland, but failed to drive in any more runs. The Gamecocks scored two runs in the bottom of the sixth, forcing Bauer out of the game and on the hook for the loss.
South Carolina added one run in the seventh and two in the eighth to break the game open.
“Pitching-wise, we have to do a better job of throwing strikes and forcing them to swing the bat,” head coach Monte Lee said. “You have to give [South Carolina] a lot of credit, they swung the bats very well in both games. They did a good job of hitting balls we left out over the plate, but we have got to throw strike one. We gave up nine free passes in the first game; you’re not going to win many ball games when you give away that many base-runners.”
Charleston now turns their focus to crosstown rival, The Citadel. The Cougars will play the Bulldogs in a home and home series next weekend, with Charleston hosting on Friday and Sunday and The Citadel hosting on Saturday. First pitch on Friday is scheduled for 3 p.m.