Western Carolina outlasts College of Charleston, 5-4

MOUNT PLEASANT — College of Charleston (10-8, 2-2 Southern Conference) and Western Carolina (11-6, 3-1) combined for four runs in the final two innings and the final out of the game was made on an intense play at the plate as the Catamounts took a 5-4 win over the Cougars on Friday night.

Western Carolina broke a 4-4 tie with a sacrifice fly from Bradley Strong in the top of the ninth, scoring J.D. Long from third base. College of Charleston nearly tied it up in the bottom of the ninth inning after a double from Tyler Jackson and an infield single from Blake Butler. Pinch-runner Devon Reed advanced to third on Butler’s hit and rounded third for the potential tying run, but was called out at home for the final out of the game.

The Cougars tied the game with an RBI hit from Brandon Murray in the bottom of the eighth inning, scoring Ben Boykin from first. Murray originally went to third base but was called back to second after the play was ruled a ground rule double after discussion.

Murray advanced to third base on a sacrifice bunt by Bradley Goodson, but was tagged out after his foot came off the bag. The Catamounts got out of the eighth inning with a strikeout-throwout double play.

Tyler Powell (1-0) picked up the win for Western Carolina after pitching the eighth inning, while Preston Hatcher (4) picked up the save as he pitched the ninth inning.

Michael Hanzlik (1-2) was tagged with the loss, coming into the eighth inning after Cody Jones hit a go-ahead two-run home run, the first runs of the game since the third inning. Hanzlik’s only allowed run was unearned as he struck out three. Matt Pegler had his fourth no-decision of the season after the Cougars tied the game in the bottom of the eighth inning.

Murray led the Cougars’ offense with a perfect 3-for-3 day at the plate with two doubles and one RBI. Ryan Welke hit his second home run of the season, a two-run shot in the fourth inning that scored Murray. Jackson finished with two hits and an RBI.

Western Carolina’s Jones led the Catamounts with two hits and a two-run homer. Julian Ridings hit a solo home run back in the second inning to open the scoring.

Friday night’s game was the sixth one-run game this season, and the third that was decided on the final at-bat.

Both teams will return to the diamond today at 2 p.m. Left-hander Jake Zokan will start for College of Charleston, while Western Carolina will counter with left-hander Morgan McKinney.