MOUNT PLEASANT – College of Charleston rode the hitting of Marty Gantt and the pitching of Josh Renfro to an 8-4 victory over The Citadel tonight in the first game of a three-game set between the college baseball rivals.
Gantt smacked two doubles and drove in three runs, and Renfro limited the Bulldogs to two runs over six innings before 568 fans at Patriots Point.
The Cougars, battling for the Southern Conference regular-season title, improved to 27-12 overall and 15-7 in the SoCon. The Citadel, scrapping to make the eight-team league tourney, had a four-game win streak snapped to fall to 17-22 overall, 7-9 in the league.
The teams meet again at 3 p.m. Saturday, and finish the series at 1 p.m. Sunday.
Renfro, a senior left-hander, improved his record to 6-3, giving up four hits, walking one and striking out four over six innings.
Citadel starter Austin Pritcher (4-3) did not have the same stuff he displayed last Friday night, when he pitched a complete-game four-hitter in a 3-0 in over UNC Greensboro. The Cougars roughed him up for 11 hits and seven runs, six earned, through 4-2/3 innings.
Down 2-0, Charleston broke through against Pritcher with four runs in the third, after a Citadel error to start the inning gave the Cougars their first baserunner of the game.
Gunnar Heidt and Gantt followed with RBI doubles for two runs, and Gantt motored right through a stop sign at third to score the go-ahead run on Bradley Goodson's high-hop single. Brandon Murray fisted a single to left to plate Goodson with the fourth run.
Charleston added two more in the fourth as Gantt smoked a two-run double to left for a 6-2 lead. The margin reached 8-2 before the Bulldogs scored single runs in the eighth and ninth.
The Bulldogs had a chance to get back in the game in the fifth, with the bases full and one out for Justin Mackert, who belted a solo home run in the third. But Renfro struck out The Citadel's best hitter with a 3-1 breaking ball and a 3-2 fastball, and Joe Jackson also struck out – on a controversial checked swing – to end the threat.
The Bulldogs broke on top in the second when Drew DeKerlegand reached on an error and raced to third on Calvin Orth's double to the left-center gap. DeKerlegand scored on a groundout by Johnathan Stokes for a 1-0 lead.
Mackert made it 2-0 in the third, slugging a two-out home run just to the right of the “Green Monster” in left field. It was the fifth homer of the year for the Citadel senior.