Cougars down Hofstra to win series, secure bye

Freshman Tyler Thornton had a masterful performance on the mound and Ben Boykin came through with the game-winning RBI in the seventh inning to propel College of Charleston to a win in Sunday's rubber match at Hofstra.

CofC (35-16, 13-5) secured a bye in the first round of the CAA Tournament by locking up the two seed for the conference tournament at UNCW in two weeks. The Cougars can still win the regular-season crown with a sweep of William & Mary at home next weekend.

Hofstra (19-23, 7-11) will now wait its postseason fate with no more conference games, needing Northeastern to lose to give them the final sixth seed.

Charleston won its fourth conference series and did so in dramatic fashion on Sunday. Despite allowing an unearned run in the first inning, CofC rallied to tie the game in the third and take the lead in the seventh. Hofstra had runners on second and third with two outs in the ninth inning, but Eric Ferguson popped up to second base to end it.

Thornton (5-4) recorded his sixth quality start and fourth win in his last five starts as part of the weekend rotation. He made the first out of the ninth inning before being relieved by closer Michael Hanzlik. Thornton gave up just three hits, all coming with two outs and none on, and did not allow an earned run. He struck out seven with no walks.

Hanzlik recorded his 12th save of the season and third in the last four games. He leads the conference and now ranks fourth all-time for saves in a single season. He allowed a hit, a hit batsman and a wild pitch in the ninth inning, but recorded a strikeout and got a popup to second to end the game with runners in scoring position.

Boykin led CofC's offense with two hits, including the game-winning RBI double in the seventh inning that scored Blake Butler from first base. Butler finished with a hit and two walks, while Alex Pastorius got the start and made a splash with a double and a run scored.

Carl Wise extended his team lead in RBIs to 45 with an RBI bases-loaded walk in the third.

Hofstra's Kenny Jackson hit a two-out triple in the first inning and came home to score on an infield error for the Pride's only run of the game. Jackson finished with three hits, while Matt Ford had the team's only other hit.

Pastorius helped Charleston tie the game in the third with his double to right center. He moved to third on a sacrifice bunt from Champ Rowland and then scored after three consecutive walks to Butler, Boykin and Wise. Hofstra got out of the inning with a grounder force-out at home and a strikeout to keep the score at 1-1.

Butler then reached on a one-out single in the seventh inning and came all the way around to score on Boykin's big hit to center. Boykin tried to stretch the double into a triple but was called out at third after giving CofC a 2-1 lead.

Jackson gave Hofstra life in the ninth inning with a single to right field. After a strikeout, he moved into scoring position when T.J. Ehrsam was hit by a pitch. The runners advanced yet another base on a wild pitch, but Ferguson popped out to Butler to end the game.

CofC returns home for four games beginning on Tuesday night against Coastal Carolina. The weekend series against William & Mary will have start times of 6 p.m., 6 p.m. and 3 p.m. on Thursday, Friday and Saturday.