Clarke passes single-season strikeout record as No. 19 CofC drops UNCW

Junior ace Taylor Clarke eclipsed the College of Charleston single-season strikeout record as No. 19 CofC cruised past UNCW, 13-4, in the first of a three-game series between the top two teams in the Colonial Athletic Association on Friday night.

Game two of the series has been moved up from its originally scheduled start time to 1 p.m. on Saturday at Patriots Point.

After inauspiciously falling in a 3-0 hole in the top of the first, Charleston (36-10, 17-2 CAA) scored 13 unanswered runs to put another game between the teams in the CAA standings. CofC now sits two games ahead of UNCW (33-13, 15-3 CAA) and the rest of the league, with five remaining league games on the schedule.

Clarke (11-1) settled in after three unearned runs crossed in the top of the first to retire 17 straight hitters, with exclusion to a Cougar error. Clarke struck out 10 on the day, propelling his season count to a program-best 117, passing Nick Chigges who fanned 112 in 2007.

On the day, Clarke scattered just four hits without allowing a walk or an earned run over 7.1 innings pitched, managing his seventh straight quality start.

Offensively, Ryan Brown, Carl Wise, and Nick Pappas all registered three hits to lead the Cougars, as all CofC hitters registered a hit or scored a run. Pappas and Blake Butler tied with a game-high three RBIs.

“Taylor Clarke was outstanding,” said head coach Monte Lee. “After giving up a big inning in the first, he doesn’t walk a guy or give up a hit until the seventh. That’s phenomenal for a guy to be able to bounce back and do that. I’m proud of all our guys. We gave up a big inning in the first, but responded in the bottom half and then threw up a big inning ourselves in the second. We played some very good defense; we swung the bats exceptionally well; we hit with two outs and two strikes. It was just an overall great effort.”

In the top of the first, a hit-by-pitch, single and Cougar error loaded the bases for UNCW, and Luke Dunlap knocked a triple into the corner in right to clear the bases, with all runs scoring unearned.

The Cougars responded right away with three consecutive singles — all to the right side — by Ryan Brown, Alex Pastorius and Wise to take one run back in the bottom half.

After Clarke set the UNCW side down in order in the second, the Cougars went to work in the bottom half, ultimately plating five runs on four hits to seize the lead. Morgan Phillips drew a leadoff walk, and Erven Roper singled through the left side to give the Cougars two runners. Facing two outs, five straight Cougar hitters reached base to extend the rally and swing the Cougars on top, 6-3.

Clarke continued to quell the UNCW bats, and the Cougars added two more in the fifth after Butler was hit by a pitch and scored on a triple by Pappas in the ensuing at bat. Two outs later, Pappas scored on an RBI single by Bradley Jones, putting the Cougars up 8-3.

Charleston added another in the sixth, with Wise drawing a two-out walk and scoring on an RBI triple by Butler, marking the Cougars’ seventh of nine runs scored with two outs in the game.

The College blew the game further out of reach in the eighth, plating four more runs on four hits and punishing a Seahawk fielding error. The error gifted the Cougars a runner to start the inning, and CofC cashed in with singles by Brown, Wise, Butler (two RBIs), and Pappas (RBI). An RBI fielder’s choice by Phillips drove the score to 13-3.

UNCW loaded the bases in the ninth, and managed a run on an RBI single by Kennard McDowell, but reliever Will Detwiler forced a groundball for a game-ending 4-6-3 double play. Detwiler went 1.2 innings with just one run after relieving Clarke with one out in the eighth.

Connor Walsh and Drew Ellis both homered twice in the opening three innings to back seven innings of shutout pitching from James Reeves, giving The Citadel a 9-1 win over East Tennessee State in the opening game of a Southern Conference series on Friday at Riley Park.

The series continues at 2 p.m. Saturday, with the possibility of a doubleheader depending on the weather forecast for Sunday.

The Citadel improved to 21-26 overall while ETSU dropped to 19-30 in the first game as SoCon rivals since the Buccaneers left the conference following the 2005 season. The teams are both 6-13 in the league.

The Bulldogs jumped on ETSU starter Griffin Krieg in the bottom of the first on a two-run homer by Walsh to straightaway center and a solo shot over the video board in right center by Ellis.

The duo struck again in the third with Walsh following a Johnathan Stokes single with a long homer to right center, and Ellis went to nearly the same spot for his second solo round tripper to build The Citadel lead to 6-0.

It marked the first time that two Bulldogs homered twice in the same game since Curt Beerman and Rodney Hancock turned the trick against Marshall on March 22, 1997. Ellis increased his team-leading total to eight homers, the most by a Citadel freshman since Richard Jones had 15 in 2007, while Walsh has gone deep six times and has a team-best 47 RBI.

While the Bulldogs were playing long ball, Reeves (7-3) coasted through his seven innings, scattering five hits and striking out 12, two shy of his season high and three short of his career best. The redshirt junior southpaw recorded his fourth double-digit strikeout game of the year and raised his season total to 99.

Reeves fanned two in each of the first three innings and struck out the side in the fourth. He finished his day in the seventh, stranding a runner at second and completing the frame by striking out Kevin Phillips.

The Citadel tacked on a run in the fifth when Walsh walked and scored his third run of the game on a double by Stephen Windham. A two-base hit by Ryan Kilgallen and RBI single by Austin Mapes rounded out the Bulldog offensive output in the seventh.

ETSU avoided the shutout in the eighth against Austin Mason on a double by Trey York, a wild pitch and sacrifice fly by Hagen Owenby. Mason fanned three in his two innings of relief.

Krieg (2-7) allowed six hits and seven runs with four strikeouts in five innings and took the loss for the Bucs.

Chris Okey, Eli White and Steven Duggar all hit home runs and Weston Wilson tallied a career-high four hits to lead Clemson over Georgia Southern on Friday night at Doug Kingsmore Stadium.

The Tigers, who took a 1-0 lead in the series, improved to 26-24 on the season, while the Eagles fell to 27-22.

The Eagles scored a run in the top of the second inning, then Okey responded with a two-run homer, his ninth long ball of the season, in the bottom of the second inning to give Clemson the lead for good. White and Duggar led off the third inning with back-to-back homers before Robert Jolly lined a two-out, run-scoring single in the fourth inning. After the Eagles scored a run in the top of the sixth inning, Clemson erupted for four runs in the bottom of the sixth inning and four runs in the seventh inning to put the game out of reach.

Daniel Crownover (9-1) earned the win by allowing six hits, three runs and one walk with eight strikeouts in 7.0 innings pitched. Eagle starter Evan Challenger (5-2) suffered the loss, as he yielded nine hits, including three homers, and five runs in 4.1 innings pitched. He entered the game with a 1.11 ERA and only one home run allowed in 65.0 innings pitched in 2015.

The series continues at 6 p.m. Saturday.

Radford scored five early runs and starter Michael Boyle worked into the eighth inning as the Highlanders took the series opener from Charleston Southern on Friday night at RU Baseball Stadium.

With the win, Radford improved to 34-14 overall and 15-4 in Big South play, while CSU fell to 22-23 and 9-10.

Boyle (8-2) held the Bucs to four hits and two earned runs in 7.2 innings. He struck out four and walked three.

Radford’s Hunter Higgerson had a three-run double in the fifth to break open a 2-1 game. Patrick Marshall hit a two-run home run in the first off of CSU starter Andrew Tomasovich (7-6) to spark Radford to an early lead.

The Bucs cut the Radford lead to 2-1 in the second on an RBI single from Chris Singleton, who was 2-for-3, but couldn’t get anything going against Boyle.

CSU extended two hitting streaks in the eighth when Nate Blanchard doubled and scored on an RBI single by Brian Dye. Dye ran his hitting streak to a CSU season-best 17 games, while Blanchard is at 16 games.

Reliever Jon Piriz worked 2.2 scoreless innings in relief for the Bucs.

The teams meet again at 4 p.m. Saturday.