Cougs’ Gantt shines again

College of Charleston senior Marty Gantt continued to shine at the plate but he also showed off his defensive talent Saturday in leading the College of Charleston to a 7-2 victory over The Citadel at Patriots Point.

Gantt led off the College of Charleston’s first inning with a towering home run over the left field wall to highlight a 3-for-3 performance against the Bulldogs. He also made a spectacular diving catch in the fifth inning to save a run.

Gantt also had a double and a single, stole two bases and drew two intentional walks. Heading into today’s 1 p.m. series finale at Patriots Point, Gantt is 6 for 8 against the Bulldogs.

“I’ve been coming out and trying to get good swings. Their pitchers made some mistakes and left some balls across the plate. I was just trying to capitalize,” Gantt said.

Gantt’s homer wasn’t the only long ball for the Cougars in the first. Sophomore Brandon Murray powered one over the right-field wall to give the Cougars a 2-0 lead.

The Bulldogs answered with a run of their own in the second. Joe Jackson got the first of his two doubles to lead off the inning and scored on Drew DeKerlegand’s sacrifice fly. But the Cougars were able to match that in the bottom half. Gunnar Heidt reached on an error and eventually scored on Bradley Goodson’s bloop single.

Charleston broke the game open with a three-run sixth, getting three straight singles for the first run. Murray’s two-out single delivered the final two.

Gantt scored the Cougars’ final run in the bottom of the eighth, leading off with a double down the third-base line, stealing third and scoring on Goodson’s single.

The Citadel managed to scratch out a single run in the ninth with DeKerlegand getting a leadoff single, advancing to second on a walk and to third on a wild pitch and scoring on a sacrifice by Nick Orvin.

Citadel coach Fred Jordan said starter Kevin Connell was wild in the first and the Cougars took advantage. But he also praised the College of Charleston defense for making big plays.

“The play Gantt made, and the play Rob Harding made with two outs (in the sixth), that could have been a multiple run inning for us,” Jordan said. “And Murray’s two-out base hit (in the bottom of the sixth) busted the ball game over. We have to come out and try to get one tomorrow.”

Starter Christian Powell (7-2) got the win for the Cougars, giving up four hits and one run. Connell (1-3) was charged with the loss.

“When you are able to score early, it relaxes your offense,” Charleston coach Monte Lee said. “It takes some pressure off the team. You play with more confidence and play relaxed when you score early.

“It was great for us to start off the game and hit a couple of home runs and get on the board early. We threw the ball well. Defensively we made two plays in the middle part of the ballgame. We swung the bats well and we were able to throw the ball well. We played a good game today.”