MOUNT PLEASANT - They tried to disband pitcher Taylor Clarke's team last year. After Towson University announced it was doing away with baseball, Clarke and his teammates put tape over the word "Towson" on their uniforms.
"We didn't want to represent a school that didn't want us," Clarke said.
The upheaval in Towson's program has turned into a blessing for College of Charleston's. After transferring to CofC, Clarke is proudly wearing "Cougars" on his jersey, and doing his part to improve the immediate future of his new team.
The 6-4 right-hander handcuffed Citadel batters Sunday, and Brandon Murray's fifth-inning grand slam sparked College of Charleston to an 11-5 victory before 1,010 fans at Patriots Point.
The Cougars (11-3), ranked No. 29 in the National Collegiate Baseball Writers Association poll, and Bulldogs (7-8) will play the rubber game of the series at 6 p.m. Monday at Riley Park.
Clarke, from Ashburn, Va., redshirted last season at Towson after undergoing Tommy John surgery. He watched as the Tigers were given a reprieve from the school's decision to drop baseball and went on to win the Colonial Athletic Association title.
But with the program's future uncertain, Towson players were given blanket releases to transfer, and Cougars coach Monte Lee was in search of a solid starter. He's got one in Clarke, who is 3-1 this season after holding the Bulldogs to one earned run on seven hits in 61/3 innings.
Clarke walked one batter and struck out six, and retired Citadel slugger Bo Thompson - hero of the Bulldogs' 5-4, 11-inning win on Saturday - twice with runners in scoring position.
"Clarke was outstanding," said Citadel coach Fred Jordan. "He pitched both sides of the plate, and just never let us breathe. We got a couple of hits, but never could put an inning together."
The Cougars did put an inning together in the fifth, with help from an error by Citadel shortstop Johnathan Stokes, one of two by the Bulldogs. The error, a bunt single and walk loaded the bases for Murray, who parked a 3-1 pitch from Citadel starter James Reeves beyond the fence in right-center for a 6-1 lead.
Brandon Glazer followed with a solo shot to left to chase Reeves (2-1), who gave up six hits and seven runs (only two earned) over 42/3 innings.
"The at-bat before, I had struck out with a runner on third," said Murray, who hit his second homer of the season. "I felt I needed to do something big for the team. I went up looking to hit something hard and luckily it went out of here."
Thompson, who drove in the winning run in Saturday's game, had chances to do damage Sunday. He popped out with runners at second and third in the third, and hit into a double play with two on in the fifth, finishing 0 of 3 with a walk and an RBI.
"We did a good job of keeping the ball down, and that's what you have to do with Bo," said Cougars coach Monte Lee. "He's one of the best hitters in the Southern Conference, and their first four hitters are all really good."'
The Citadel will start junior lefty Kevin Connell (0-2, 5.68 ERA) on Monday, while the Cougars counter with 6-8 freshman Bailey Ober (3-0, 1.50 ERA).