College of Charleston baseball coach Monte Lee won’t be asking for any advice from his cross-town rival this weekend.
Last season as the Cougars were preparing to play in their first Colonial Athletic Association baseball tournament, Lee reached out to Citadel coach Fred Jordan for a little help in preparing his team for the postseason.
In 23 seasons as the Bulldogs head coach, Jordan has won more than 770 games, including seven Southern Conference tournament titles.
The Citadel, which has been the SoCon tournament runner-up another five times, has been to the championship round on a dozen occasions under Jordan. In all, Jordan is 61-31 (.663 winning percentage) in SoCon tournament games.
Until last year’s Super Regional appearance, Lee had not enjoyed the same kind of success in the postseason. Despite earning two at-large bids to the NCAA tournament in five years under Lee, the Cougars hadn’t won a conference tournament title until last season.
Jordan’s pre-tournament guidance was a key in the Cougars’ run to the school’s second Super Regional appearance, Lee said.
Jordan and Lee will get together this weekend, but not to offer each other assistance. The Bulldogs (3-1) and Cougars (1-2) play a three-game series starting Friday (3 p.m.) at Patriots Point. The series shifts to Riley Park on Saturday (2 p.m.) with the finale Sunday back at Patriots Point (1 p.m.).
“I don’t think Freddie would have been as generous with his advice this weekend as he was last year,” Lee said with a chuckle. “Our coaching staffs are really close, we consider all of those guys friends. We bounce ideas off of each other all the time. But this weekend, it’s a little different. We’re cross-town rivals and everyone wants to win.”
It has been a hotly contested rivalry since the Cougars revived their baseball program in 1991. The Bulldogs hold a 41-40 advantage, but the Cougars have had the upper hand recently going 12-6 over the last five seasons, including last year’s 2-1 mark against The Citadel.
“It’s always hard-fought games and a hard-fought series when we play,” Lee said. “They play extremely hard every pitch. I think it’s great for the city of Charleston and for fans of baseball in the Lowcountry that we play each other every year. I know we’re excited about playing them and we’ve got a lot of respect for each other.”
The Bulldogs swept Air Force last weekend at Riley Park, and lost at North Florida, 16-9, on Tuesday.
“I was very pleased with our starting pitching and we defended extremely well,” said Jordan. “Our defense went a little south against North Florida, but that’s baseball. We’ll mature and I’m sure we’re going to learn a lot about ourselves during this series.”
The Cougars, meanwhile, beat nationally ranked South Carolina in the season opener, 8-3, last Friday night, but dropped the next two games to the Gamecocks.
“I don’t think you try to make too much out of anything after one weekend,” Lee said. “It’s a process and I tried to talk to the team about the things that we did well against South Carolina. I thought we played really well defensively and I thought we swung the bats well. We had a couple of base-running snafus and we’ve got to eliminate the free passes and force teams to swing the bats.”
Friday afternoon’s game will feature two dominant pitchers in The Citadel’s James Reeves and College of Charleston’s Taylor Clarke. Reeves struck out 14 batters in the Bulldogs’ 5-3 victory over Air Force, while Clarke gave up two hits and one run in six innings against the Gamecocks.
Reeves, a junior, missed the second half of last season after suffering an elbow injury.
“When we had to put James on the shelf it definitely effected our starting rotation last year,” Jordan said. “James Reeves is a quality starter. We were very pleased with the way he performed last Friday against Air Force. I doubt he can duplicate that against the College of Charleston. They are a much better hitting ballclub than Air Force. One thing about James is that when he gets the ball he’s ready to go.”
The Citadel’s Austin Livingston will face Charleston’s Eric Bauer on Saturday, while the Bulldogs’ Austin Marson will take on Nathan Helvey on Sunday.
College of Charleston sophomore pitcher Bailey Ober, the national freshman pitcher of the year last season, will miss his second straight weekend series with shoulder tightness.