The College of Charleston couldn't have picked a better time to start finding their groove at the plate.
College of Charleston sophomore third baseman Carl Wise went 2-for-3, including a three-run homer in the fifth, as the Cougars rallied for a 7-4 victory over UNC Wilmington Thursday afternoon in the second round of the Colonial Athletic Association Baseball Tournament at Brooks Field in Wilmington, N.C.
The Cougars (39-17) will take on top-seeded William & Mary, an 11-4 winner over Delaware, Friday at noon. The winner of that game will advance to Saturday's CAA championship game. Wilmington (29-26) will face the winner of the Northeastern/Delaware match-up in an elimination game at 3:30 p.m. on Friday.
Wise was one of four Cougar hitters to collect two hits on the day, joining Brandon Murray, Brandon Glazer and Champ Rowland, who each went 2-for-4 for the Cougars. Wise finished with two hits and three RBIs, including his third homer, while driving in his 51st run of the season.
The Cougars pounded out 11 hits in all.
Trailing 4-1, the Cougars changed the momentum of the game with a four-run fifth inning on Wilmington starter Jordan Ramsey (2-4). Cougars shortstop Champ Rowland led off the inning with an infield single and Blake Butler followed with an RBI double. A single by Murray put runners on the corners for Wise, who blasted a three-run homer to right-center that gave the Cougars a 5-4 advantage, their first lead of the afternoon.
"It was a huge energy boost for our team," Wise said. "Just being able to advance in the winner's bracket and get that first win was huge. We stressed how important it was to dig in against Ramsey and our offense did a good job in the second and third time through the lineup against him."
The Cougars tacked on solo runs in the seventh and eighth to provide some insurance. Murray opened the seventh with a double down the first-base line and was able to score on Nick Pappas' RBI single to center. In the eighth, Glazer legged out a leadoff triple and came home on Butler's sacrifice fly to deep center.
The Cougars had one of the top pitching staffs in the CAA this season. The Cougars got a quality start from sophomore pitcher Taylor Clarke (10-3), who scattered six hits over seven innings and walked just to batter to pick up his 10th win of the season. Clarke became Charleston's sixth 10-game winner and just the fourth different player to accomplish the feat.
Charleston closer Michael Hanzlik retired all three batters he faced in the ninth to earn his league-leading 14th save.
"We treated today as if it was essentially an elimination game," head coach Monte Lee said. "We stressed this game all week and how we needed to do everything we could to win. Clarke went seven innings to help our bullpen, and Bauer and Hanzlik performed well to finish the game. I was really proud of the way our offense responded today. We had to come from behind, and I thought the offense showed a lot of heart."