Matt Pegler's gem helps College of Charleston survive in NCAA regional
GAINESVILLE, Fla. — In the ninth inning of his no-hitter against Bethune-Cookman on Friday night, Florida pitcher Jonathon Crawford hit 98 mph on the radar gun.
Not blessed with that sort of blazer, College of Charleston's Matt Pegler worked his own magic against the Wildcats on Saturday.
Pegler held Bethune- Cookman hitless through five innings and struck out a career-high nine batters, leading the Cougars to an 8-2 win and to another day in the NCAA baseball regionals at McKethan Stadium.
Charleston (38-21), which got a home run and two RBIs from Daniel Aldrich, will play at noon today against Georgia Tech, which lost 6-2 to Florida on Saturday. If the Cougars win that game, they will play again at 6 p.m. today.
Before Saturday, the Cougars had allowed 17 runs in the first two innings of three straight postseason losses. The team was 6-0 when Pegler pitches the day after a loss, and had to have another skid-snapper Saturday.
The junior right-hander from Greenville came through in fine style, his first complete game saving an already taxed bullpen. Pegler gave up only two hits — one a 2-run homer by Josh Johnson in the sixth — and walked none.
“Against Florida, it was a matter of pure stuff,” said Wildcats coach Jason Beverlin, whose team was eliminated with a 34-27 record. “That guy was overpowering, throwing 90 to 98. Today, (Pegler) kept us off-balance, threw nothing straight, kept the ball down. To hit a guy like that, you have to give up the inside path and go the other way, and our guys weren't willing to do that.”
Pegler, wary of the Wildcats after they were no-hit, didn't allow a hit until Carlos Delgado bounced a grounder off of second base in the sixth.
“I was worried they were saving up all their hits for today,” Pegler said. “I don't have a 98 mph fastball. I have to have some movement, throw cut fastballs and run the ball in and out, and try to get away with it.”
He did, and now Cougars coach Monte Lee will choose either senior lefty Josh Renfro or junior right-hander Ryan West to start today's game. Thanks to Pegler, the entire bullpen is available.
“When you have to go to the bullpen as early as we did in game one, you hope in game two your pitcher gives you a quality start,” Lee said. “Matt did what he does — threw strikes, changed speeds. If you are not extremely disciplined as a hitter, he can make it tough for you.”
The Cougars led 3-0 after four and broke the game open with five runs on six hits in the fifth, including RBI singles by Brandon Murray, Rob Harding, Aldrich (who was 3 for 3) and Brandon Glazer. Charleston has 24 hits and 12 runs in two regional games.
More offense like that and another good pitching performance, and things could get interesting.
“We know our season is on the line,” said Aldrich, who has 11 homers. “We know what's at stake. We just have to relax and play our best brand of baseball.”