Matt Leeds didn't see what happened, but he later got a firsthand account from the Western Carolina perspective of what transpired on his towering seventh-inning triple that led to a 4-2 College of Charleston victory Friday night in the losers' bracket of the Southern Conference baseball tournament at Riley Park.
"The right fielder told me the ball stayed up on the wall and then fell back onto the field. He thought it was a ground-rule double, and luckily we advanced some bases," said Leeds, who later had a conversation with the Catamounts' Cody Jones about the triple that scored Marty Gantt and Rob Kral.
"Once the ball came up I didn't see it," College of Charleston coach Monte Lee said. "It came up and hit the foul pole and then came back onto the playing surface, so it's a live ball."
Western Carolina coach Bobby Moranda protested the call, but to no avail. The loss ended Western Carolina's season at 23-31-1. Charleston improved to 38-21 and will face Georgia Southern at 1 p.m. today.
If Charleston wins, the two will meet again at either 5 or 9 p.m, depending upon the outcome of today's 9 a.m. meeting between Samford and Appalachian State.
If Samford wins, a second College of Charleston-Georgia Southern game would begin at 5 p.m. An Appalachian State victory would mean a 9 p.m. game if needed. The Eagles beat the College of Charleston, 4-2, in the opening round of the tournament, a game that did not begin until 12:30 a.m. Thursday.
"Christian Powell (the Cougars' starter) and Kyle Owings did a great job, and our defense made big plays," Lee said. "(Jimmy) Holton did a great job catching. I'm proud of our effort defensively and offensively. All three of our starters (in the tournament) have done a fantastic jobs. I hope our offense comes around and gives them more run support."
Western Carolina responded to the Cougars' two-run seventh by scoring one run in the bottom of the inning to cut the Charleston lead to 4-2. The Catamounts had runners at second and third in the eighth but could not push any runs across as reliever Kyle Owings struck out the final two batters to retire the side.
Western managed to get the leadoff batter on in the bottom of the ninth but managed only a fielder's choice between two groundouts to end the game.
Gantt went 4 for 5 with a double, scored once and drove in a run. Cole Rakar's double was Charleston's only other extra-base hit.
Western jumped ahead 1-0 in the first inning, but the Cougars tied it in the fourth with Leeds reaching on a leadoff walk, stealing second and scoring on Rakar's double that carried to the warning track.
Charleston took a 2-1 lead in the fifth, with Rob Harding also reaching on a walk and Gantt delievering a double that bounced off the right-field wall. The Cougars left runners at second and third before Western ended the threat by striking out Daniel Aldrich.
DP--CofC 1. LOB--CofC 8; WCU 10. 2B--Gantt 2, Rakar, Johns, White, Notaro. 3B--Leeds. SH--Holton. SF--Johns. SB--Gantt, Leeds 2, Schultz. CS--Gantt.
WP--Owings. HBP--by Stewart (Rodriguez); by Chilcoat (Rodriguez); by Owings (Martin).
Time: 2:59. Att: 1,409.