CofC falls, 5-4, in extras

No. 18 College of Charleston was stunned with a 5-4 loss in extra innings to Northeastern the first of a three-game Colonial Athletic Association series on Friedman Diamond on Thursday afternoon.

The game was a classic pitchers’ duel, with the teams tied 2-2 on a combined nine hits through nine innings. After plating two runs for a 4-2 lead in the top of the tenth, Charleston (39-11, 19-3 CAA) was stunned by a walkoff three-run homer off the bat of Rob Fonseca.

“You have to give them credit for staying with it after falling behind in the 10th inning,” said head coach Monte Lee. “Their pitchers did a nice job against us all day, and they eventually found a way to get the winning run to the plate. Fonseca, one of the best hitters in their lineup, got a pitch up in the strike zone and he punished us. You have to give him credit for that.

“We have to find a way to get off to a better start offensively. We knew Northeastern had a good pitching staff when we came in, and they showed that. We couldn’t get anything going offensively. That’s the key to tomorrow: find a way to score early and play with the lead.”

CofC starter Nathan Helvey dealt a quality start to keep the Cougars in the game, allowing just one run on two hits in a six-inning no decision. Helvey struck out four hitters and walked just one, and threw three-up, three-down frames in four of his six innings of work.

The Cougars outhit the Huskies, 8-7, led by Erven Roper (2-for-3, two runs scored) and Bradley Jones (3-for-4, two runs scored, two RBIs). Jones homered to give the Cougars a 2-1 lead in the seventh inning, and all Cougar runs scored and RBIs were from the 7-8-9 spots in the batting order.

After Helvey silenced the Huskies for the first three innings, Cam Hanley homered to right with one out in the fourth, marking NU’s first hit of the game. The 1-0 NU lead held up through the middle innings, as Husky starter Nick Berger quietly retired seven straight Cougar hitters from the fifth to the seventh inning.

The Cougars grounded out and struck out for against reliever Dustin Hunt for an inauspicious start to the seventh, but Roper stretched the inning with a two-out single back up the middle. That extended the inning to Jones, who jacked his 10th homer of the year out to left despite falling in an 0-2 count.

Down 2-1, NU rallied to load the bases on a double, single and walk in the bottom half of the seventh, and groundball-specialist Chase Henry came out of the pen to engineer a double play. Henry successfully forced a bouncer back up the middle, and second baseman Blake Butler made an athletic play behind the bag on a would-be inning-ending 4-3 double play, but the umpire determined Butler did not step on second for the forceout, allowing the game-tying run to score. With potential go-ahead runs still on second and third, Henry dealt a strikeout to preserve the tie.

Henry allowed a leadoff walk in the eighth, but fielded his position sharply on a come-backer to prevent a threat with a 1-6-3 inning-ending double play.

NU looked to manufacture a winning run in the ninth, with a leadoff walk and a sacrifice bunt putting a runner in scoring position with one out. Hayden McCutcheon dealt a strikeout for the second out of the inning, and a weak bouncer to Butler ended the threat.

The Cougar bats went to work in the top of the tenth, led off by Roper with a single back up the middle. Jones hammered a comebacker back to the mound which bounced off the pitcher’s leg and back towards the plate. Jones beat an errant throw to first base for a single, and advanced all the way to third while Roper scored as the throw went down the line in right field. With the infield drawn in, Champ Rowland laced a single through the right side to score Jones and give the Cougars a 4-2 lead.

McCutcheon forced a groundout to start the 10th inning, but back-to-back singles by Michael Foster and Keith Kelly brought the winning run to the plate in the form of Fonseca, who ranks second in the CAA in home runs. On a 1-0 pitch, Fonseca laced a low line drive out to left which carried out in a hurry, narrowly clearing the fence for the dramatic walkoff homer.

The Cougars will look to bounce back in game two, scheduled for Friday at 3 p.m., with ace Taylor Clarke scheduled to start on the mound.

Matthew Crownover allowed just one run on five hits in 7.0 innings pitched to lead Clemson to a win at No. 9 Florida State on Tuesday night at Dick Howser Stadium.

The Tigers, who took a 1-0 lead in the series, improved to 29-25 overall and 14-13 in the ACC. The Seminoles fell to 37-17 overall and 17-11 in ACC play. With the victory, Clemson clinched its spot in the ACC Tournament, which will be held next week in Durham, N.C.

Crownover (10-1) earned the win by giving up just five hits, one run and three walks with five strikeouts. He became the first Tiger with 10 wins since 2013 (Daniel Gossett) and the first Tiger left-hander with double-digit wins since 1996 (Ken Vining). Pat Krall pitched the final 2.0 innings to record his third save of the season. Seminole starter Boomer Biegalski (5-4) suffered the loss, as he yielded eight hits, four runs (two earned) and three walks with six strikeouts in 6.0 innings pitched.

Dylan Busby led off the second inning with a home run, then Chris Okey belted a run-scoring double in the fourth inning to tie the score. Steven Duggar hit a run-scoring single in the fifth inning to extend his hitting streak to 12 games, and Clemson scored single runs in the sixth and seventh innings, both on Seminole errors.

The series continues at 6 p.m. Friday.

Connor Walsh led off the top of the 10th with a solo homer to give The Citadel the lead, and Clay Martin made a running catch in deep right center in the bottom of the inning to seal a victory over Furman in the opening game of the final Southern Conference series of the season.

The Bulldogs (24-27, 9-13 SoCon) need to win the remaining two games against the Paladins (23-30, 10-12) to avoid playing in Tuesday’s opening round of the conference tournament at Riley Park. The Citadel has won six of its past seven SoCon games.

Freshman southpaw JP Sears (5-4 will pitch for the Bulldogs on Saturday, and sophomore righty Matthew Quarles (5-2) will toe the slab for the Paladins.

Walsh homered for the fourth time in the past five games when he launched a 2-2 pitch from Elliott Warford over the fence in left-center, only the second home run allowed in 44 innings this season by the Furman closer. The homer was Walsh’s eighth of the season and seventh in SoCon play.

With Bulldog closer Skylar Hunter on the mound in the bottom of the 10th, Chris Ohmstede singled with one out and advanced to third on a wild pitch and groundout. Jake Jones then drove a long fly ball that Martin, who entered the game as a defensive replacement in the eighth, ran down on the warning track.

The Bulldogs jumped out to quick 4-0 lead on a first inning grand slam by Drew Ellis off Matt Solter. The Paladins answered with three in the second off James Reeves and tied it in the fifth on an RBI single by Griffin Davis.

The home run was Ellis’ 10th of the year and fourth in the past five games. He became the first Citadel freshman with double figure home runs since Richard Jones slammed 15 in 2007.

It stayed a 4-4 game over the next four innings despite both teams having solid scoring threats. The Citadel put the first two men on in the sixth, loaded the bases with one out in the eighth and had runners at the corners with one out in the ninth but was unable to break the tie.

Furman had golden opportunities to take the lead in the seventh and eighth. Zach Lavery got two key outs in the seventh to strand a runner at third, and Johnathan Stokes made a diving catch of a line drive by Cameron Whitehead and stepped on second to complete an unassisted double play in the eighth.

Reeves took a no-decision, allowing six hits and all four runs (three earned) with three walks and four strikeouts in six innings. Hunter worked the final 2 2/3 innings and picked up his third win of the season, surrendering one hit while striking out three. Austin Mapes singled in the ninth to extend his hitting streak to 11, tied with Walsh for the longest by a Bulldog this season.

Solter shook off the Ellis home run to go eight strong innings, allowing only four hits over his final seven frames and struck out seven in the contest.

Presbyterian’s Tyler Weyenberg’s fourth RBI of the game scored Ryan Hedrick in the top of the 11th inning to lead the Blue Hose over Charleston Southern on Thursday night at CSU Ballpark.

Weyenberg was 2-for-6 and finished with a game high four RBIs as PC (26-27, 5-17 Big South) took the series opener.

CSU (22-27, 9-13) rallied from a 4-1 deficit with three late runs. Sam Remick was 3-for-4 and had an infield single in the eighth to tie the game. Chase Shelton and Cole Murphy added two hits apiece and each had an RBI single in the Bucs’ big inning.

PC took advantage of a CSU error in the sixth to score three unearned runs. Weyenberg delivered a two-run single after a bobbled ground ball by the Bucs’ Nate Blanchard to kept the inning alive.

Cam McRae was 3-for-5 for PC and scored a run. Hedrick added a 2-for-5 night and had a leadoff double in the 11th and would eventually score the game winner.

CSU’s Evan Raynor pitched 4.1 scoreless innings in relief. Denis Buckley (3-4) took the loss, coming on in the final inning.

PC’s Aaron Lesiak picked up the save, but CSU put a pair of runners on in the 11th to make things interesting. After issuing a pair of walks, Lesiak worked out of the jam, beating a diving Brian Dye to the bag at first to record the game’s final out.

Dye’s hitting streak ended at 20 games. He was 0-for-5 with a walk. Nate Blanchard extended his streak with 20 games with a single in the third.

CSU stranded 11 runners in the game.

Game two in the series is at 4 p.m. Friday.