The College of Charleston's late-season slide continued unabated Wednesday night, and now threatens to end the Cougars' baseball season.
Charleston lost its fifth straight game, this one 12-4 to Western Carolina, to drop to the losers' bracket of the Southern Conference Tournament at Fluor Field.
The fifth-seeded Cougars (35-21) face an elimination game against No. 8 Furman at 1 p.m. today.
The Cougars' once-mighty offense will have to be ready, as well. Little more than a week ago, College of Charleston was poised to make a run for an at-large bid to the NCAA Tournament, having won 10 games in a row.
But a 5-2 loss to Clemson and a three-game sweep by The Citadel, during which the Cougars were outscored 31-7, sent Charleston reeling into the tournament with four straight losses.
The Catamounts kept the pressure on by jumping on top early, roughing up starting pitcher Jesse Simpson (9-4) for six runs on seven hits in the second inning.
A double, a single and a walk loaded the bases. Simpson jammed J.C. Lyons, but he fisted a two-run single into left. One out later, another walk loaded the bases again, and this time Nick Liles hammered a two-run double into left for a 4-0 lead.
A fielder's choice and Ross Heffley's single made it 6-0. Lyons pushed it to 7-0 in the third with a towering solo blast to left-center, his eighth homer of the season.
Simpson took one for the team, working into the sixth and throwing 122 pitches to preserve the Cougars' bullpen for today and beyond.
Charleston had gone 13 innings without a run before Cole Rakar homered in the fifth, his 12th homer making the score 7-1.
The Cougars' Joey Bergman stroked an RBI single in the seventh, cutting the lead to 9-2 and extending his hit streak to 18 straight games. It was Bergman's 100th hit of the season, making him just the 10th player in SoCon history, and the sixth Cougar, to reach triple digits in hits.
Brandon Sizemore followed with his 17th homer, a two-run shot over the Green Monster in left, to make it 9-4.
No. 4 Western Carolina (35-20) will play No. 1 Elon in a winners' bracket game at 9 p.m. today.