Cougars face Paladins in Southern Conference baseball series
The margin of error in the Southern Conference just got a little smaller.
With just a month remaining in the regular season, there are six teams within two games of first place in the SoCon. The Cougars (20-16, 11-6) are just a half-game back of Western Carolina and Elon for first place.
The Cougars open a three-game home series against Furman this afternoon beginning at 5 p.m. at Patriots Point. The game was moved up an hour because rain is predicted later tonight.
Not only is a conference title on the line for the Cougars, but possibly an at-large NCAA bid as well. With the conference tournament and regionals just around the corner, the Cougars have been in the NCAA bubble discussions. Baseball America currently is projecting the Cougars as the only at-large possibility from the SoCon. Charleston leads the SoCon with an RPI rating of 57.
“Each weekend from now until the conference tournament will be crucial with so many teams so close together,” said College of Charleston coach Monte Lee.
“We have to be consistently aggressive at the plate and play solid defense. We have pitched pretty well all season, so if we can put all three together every game, we can be successful down the stretch.”
Charleston outfielder Brandon Murray has been putting together an MVP-type season in the past month, hitting .438 with 23 RBIs and an .833 slugging percentage since March 29. He was named the Louisville Slugger National Player of the Week and the Southern Conference player of the week after setting a school record with nine RBIs in an 18-5 win over Davidson last weekend.
The Paladins are led by former Bishop England star Alex Abrams. Abrams is scheduled to pitch Saturday night in the second game of the series. Abrams is 3-0 with a 1.95 earned run average. He has 21 strikeouts in 272/3 innings this season. At the plate, Abrams leads the Paladins with a .333 batting average, three home runs and 21 RBIs.
The Paladins (19-16, 7-11) have had a roller-coaster season, starting the season with wins over Michigan State, South Carolina and Georgia. The Paladins, however, have stumbled in SoCon play, losing series to Davidson, Wofford and Samford.