Cougars sweep series from Bulldogs

Nathan Helvey pitches during the game Sunday against the Citadel. Leroy Burnell/Staff

In 24 seasons at The Citadel, head coach Fred Jordan has faced every College of Charleston baseball team, except one, since the downtown school revived its program in 1991.

Of the 24 different College of Charelston teams the veteran coach has faced, the 2015 edition is the best he’s seen in more than two decades.

The Cougars swept the Bulldogs during their three-game series this weekend, but a strike here or a swing of the bat there, and The Citadel could have very easily walked away with city bragging rights.

Nathan Helvey threw 62/3 strong innings and Nick Pappas collected three doubles and drove in a run to lead the College of Charleston past The Citadel, 4-3, Sunday afternoon before a crowd of 1,035 at Patriots Point.

The Cougars beat the Bulldogs, 8-7, in 11 innings on Friday and 6-4 at Riley Park on Saturday. It was the fourth time since 2007 that the Cougars (4-2) have swept their crosstown rivals. Charleston did it in 2007, 2008, 2012 and again this year. The Cougars lead the all-time series with the Bulldogs, 43-41.

“They’ve got a great club. As far as I’m concerned, this is the best College of Charleston club they’ve had since I’ve been here,” said Jordan, who is 39-43 against the Cougars since 1992.

Just four runs separated the two clubs during their three-game series this year as the Bulldogs (3-4) had a chance to tie or win the game in their final at bat.

“We just didn’t get the timely hit all weekend,” Jordan said. “We had a chance in all three ball games with one swing of the bat to win the game. That’s all you ask from a ballclub is to give you a chance to win in innings seven, eight and nine, and we did that all weekend.

“You’ve got to credit their pitching staff for pitching backwards and getting out of jams. We had the bases loaded three times (Sunday).”

The Citadel dominated the series in the 1990s, but the Cougars are 15-6 against the Bulldogs over the last five years.

“This series could have gone either way with one pitch or one swing of the bat,” said College of Charleston coach Monte Lee. “We could very easily have lost all three games. The Citadel is a really young team, but they competed extremely hard in all three games and that’s a credit to their players and that coaching staff. I think they are only going to get better.”

The Cougars earned a series sweep without one of their top pitchers — sophomore Bailey Ober — who missed his second straight week with shoulder soreness. Ober was the national freshman pitcher of the year a season ago.

“It’s still early and we’ve got a long way to go,” Lee said. “We’ve only played two series and we’re still trying to find our identity. My opinion of our team isn’t going to be the same as the coach in the other dugout. We just need to be a more consistent club. That’s what every team is trying to become.”

Helvey (1-1) picked up his first win of the season, giving up just five hits and striking out five batters.

“My offspeed pitches were working pretty well — I really couldn’t throw my fastball for strikes today,” Helvey said.

Trailing 4-2 heading into the final inning, The Bulldogs’ Austin Mapes doubled and scored on a groundout by Connor Walsh. Johnathan Stokes walked and pinch runner Shy Phillips reached second on a wild pitch with two outs before College of Charleston closer Hayden McCutcheon retired Stephen Windham on a foulout to the catcher.