MOUNT PLEASANT — While Marty Gantt may have been the series star, College of Charleston senior Rob Harding was the hero for the evening as the Cougars squeaked past The Citadel, 6-5, in 11 innings at Patriots Point.
Harding, who went 4 for 6 at the plate, delivered a one-out single to score Brandon Murray and complete a Southern Conference sweep for the Cougars, who improved to 29-12, 17-7 in the SoCon. The Citadel fell to 17-24, 7-11.
It was the first extra-inning game between the schools in 104 games. The Citadel is 1-2 in extra-inning games this year while the Cougars are now 2-1.
After stopping the Bulldogs in their half of the 11th, Charleston got a leadoff double by Bradley Goodson. The Citadel elected to walk Murray in order to face Cougar cleanup hitter Daniel Aldrich, who was 0 for 5 with three strikeouts. Cougars coach Monte Lee had Aldrich bunt, and the sophomore’s attempt popped over the third baseman’s head. But the Bulldogs managed to get the lead runner, bringing Harding to the plate.
His sharp single to left scored Murray and his teammates piled on in celebration. Harding had three RBI for Charleston.
Gantt was 9 for 13 for the series (.692), had a home run, 3 doubles, added four RBI and drew three intentional walks, including one Sunday.
The game, originally scheduled to begin at 1 p.m., didn’t end until 9:55 p.m., thanks to a five-hour rain delay that pushed the start until 6:15 p.m.
It was an important series for both schools. The Cougars are in the chase for the regular-season title and have league series remaining at Western Carolina next weekend and at UNC Greensboro May 17-19. The Citadel, still fighting for one of the eight spots in next month’s Southern Conference Tournament, has four league series remaining, including a trip to Georgia Southern next weekend.
The College of Charleston struck first, with Harding singling in Bradley Goodson, who was hit by a pitch.
But The Citadel answered with a pair of runs in the top of the second. Joe Jackson led off with an infield single and eventually scored on Calvin Orth’s ground out. Murray misplayed a fly ball that allowed Drew DeKerlegand, who also singled, to score.
Charleston tied it in the third at 2-2. Murray led off with a single and advanced to second on a wild pitch. He scored on Harding’s single.
The Cougars added two more runs in the fourth on three singles and a sacrifice fly for a 4-2 lead, then added one more in the fifth.
The Citadel battled back and tied it with a three-run sixth. The Bulldogs got singles by Joe Jackson, Drew DeKerlegand and a walk by Bailey Rush that loaded the bases with two outs, and Hughston Armstrong cleaned the bases with a double into the right field corner.