MOUNT PLEASANT -- The College of Charleston took an important step toward catching crosstown rival The Citadel in the regular season Southern Conference race, rallying for a 13-9 victory over the Bulldogs at Patriots Point Field.

The Citadel (29-17, 17-5 Southern Conference) is still in first place in the SoCon but is now only two games ahead of the second-place Cougars (34-12, 18-7) in the loss column. The series continues today at 7 p.m. at Patriots Point with Citadel left-hander Matt Talley (5-2, 4.16 ERA) facing Cougars right-hander Kevin Decker (5-0, 4.19 ERA). The final game of the series is Sunday at 1 p.m. at Patriots Point.

"We still know that The Citadel is in first place in our league, and we know that Talley does an outstanding

job pitching on the weekends," said Cougars coach Monte Lee. "We've got our hands full tomorrow. We have to come out and have a good approach. Hopefully, we'll pitch a little better and we'll swing the bats."

The Cougars jumped on Citadel ace Asher Wojciechowski for three runs in the first inning, and that gave Charleston a big confidence boost. The Bulldogs were able to match that outburst and more with a six-run fourth inning. But Charleston continued to score against the Bulldogs, adding 10 runs over the next five innings.

The sixth inning was key for the Cougs, who rallied from a 7-6 deficit on the strength of three doubles to take a 10-7 lead.

Sophomore Jose Rodriguez, who has now hit safely in 13 straight games, went 4 for 4 with 3 RBIs and a pair of doubles for the College of Charleston. Joey Bergman was 3 for 5.

"It was a great victory," Rodriguez said. "Up and down the lineup, we took good swings and we competed all nine innings. We had one bad inning when they scored six runs. Other than that, the pitching staff was great. Everyone in the lineup did their jobs.

"Taking the first game puts the pressure on them. They've got to win two in a row to win the series," he said.

The Citadel was led by Brad Felder, who was 2 for 5, including a home run, and Bryan Altman, who was 2 for 4 and also had a homer.

Citadel coach Fred Jordan said Wojciechowski had to battle and his pitch count was high. "Their lineup is very deep and difficult to pitch against," he said. "They are a good club. We'll bounce back and see what happens tomorrow."

Charleston has won 10 of its last 11 starts and six in a row. The Citadel is 6-6 in its last 12 games.

"Obviously, I'm very proud of the first inning," Lee said. "We scored three runs on three hits. We swung the bats well. We got off to a good start, which is a good thing for our offense, against arguably the best starter in the whole league.

"We battled. We scored runs from the fourth inning on, which is a good thing, too. We didn't play great defensively. We made some errors, didn't make a couple of plays that cost us a few runs. But our bullpen did a good job of keeping them in check and allowing us to get the bats going and get back in the ballgame. We got a big win tonight."

E--Simonelli, Leeds, Knox, Holler 2. DP--Citadel 1, CofC 1. LOB--Citadel 9, CofC 6. 2B--Greene, Richards, Ladd, Bergman 2, Kral, Rodriguez 2, Blake, Knox. HR--Felder, Altman, Kral, Knox, Holler. SB--Orvin, Simonelli, Mackert.

HBP--by Powell (Jordan), by Lucchese (Simonelli). WP--Wojciechowski, Lucchese. PB--Richards, Kral. Time--2:58. Att: 1,064.