Bucs show steady progression in 2010May 30, 2010
By CSU Sports Information
CHARLESTON, S.C. – The Charleston Southern University baseball team improved in many areas from Year One to Year Two of the Stuart Lake era. The Buccaneers added another win from last year’s total, and they also went toe-to-toe with some stiff competition during the 2010 campaign.
CSU finished the year 17-38 overall and narrowly missed out on a postseason berth following a 6-20 mark in the Big South Conference. The Bucs were right there in plenty of contests, as 13 of the losses were by just one or two runs. Eleven of the 55 games were against ranked opponents.
“We obviously didn’t have the season that we wanted to, but I feel like we made a lot of strides in the right direction heading into the future,” Coach Lake said. “We are going to take everything we learned from this year into our fall drills, and hopefully we can just keep improving next season.”
Rising seniors Tyler Thornburg and Nick Chinners both made the All-Conference Second Team, with Chinners becoming the second first basemen in school history to earn a postseason laurel. Rising junior Charlie McCready also made the All-Academic Team.
Chinners led CSU with a .385 batting average, which was second in the Big South Conference, and he also batted .448 during league play. His 43 runs batted in were also a team best, and he finished second on the team with 79 hits and third with seven home runs.
“Nick batted three or four for us all year,” Lake said. “He drove in a lot of big runs and had a lot of big hits. I felt like he was very deserving of his postseason honor."
Thornburg finished 2010 with a 5-4 record and a 4.14 earned run average. He led the Big South in opposing batting average (.212) and finished second in the conference in both strikeouts (88) and strikeouts per appearance (10.11).
“Tyler pitched a complete game in probably one of the biggest victories in our school’s history, and he gave us a chance to win in almost every game he started," Lake said. "We were very excited that he was recognized by our conference.”
The game Lake was referring to occurred March 14, when Thornburg led Charleston Southern to a 6-3 victory over No. 6-ranked University of Florida. He struck out a career-high 11 batters and gave up just seven hits in the complete-game victory. Rising sophomore Jon Matthews also had a breakout performance with a 3-for-5, four-RBI effort.
CSU took games off both Virginia Commonwealth and Furman to get the season underway. After a sweep by Virginia Tech and a narrow loss to College of Charleston, the Buccaneers won a series against Holy Cross and took down USC Upstate.
Next came the victory over the Gators, followed by another victory over the Spartans and a win over Savannah State.
CSU entertained Coastal Carolina for a weekend set, and nearly took a game off the No. 8-ranked Chanticleers. The Bucs held a 5-2 lead March 20 heading into the eighth inning, but a late comeback thwarted any chance of an upset over the newly-crowned conference champions.
After another victory over Savannah State, CSU picked up a 1-0 win March 27 against No. 28-ranked VMI.
CSU fell to No. 25 The Citadel March 31, but went to Radford University and won the series with the Highlanders.
Perhaps the most exciting stretch of the season came April 6-9. Charleston Southern scored five runs in the bottom of the ninth to come back and defeat The Citadel 8-7 on April 6. The following night, the Buccaneers scored six runs in the final frame to take down Furman University 9-8.
Not to be outdone, CSU scored three runs in the final two frames to defeat Winthrop University 7-5. The last two wins of the season came over Presbyterian College and an 18-4 blowout victory over Gardner-Webb University.
“We played a tough schedule this year because we wanted to get our players into that environment, and it helps with recruiting,” Lake said. “A lot of times we think those kids in the bigger programs just have everything handed to them, but when you get in there and play Florida State for two days or Florida for a weekend, then you see how hard they work.
“These programs aren’t just good because of luck or because their athletic department has more money. There is a lot of work put into it, and we have to be able to match that in our preparation every single day.”
Charleston Southern also battled with the likes of South Carolina, Georgia Southern and UNC Wilmington during the course of the season.
Another highlight of the 2010 campaign came in the second inning May 21 against High Point University, when Brantley Meier hit an RBI single to break the school record for hits in a single season. He finished the season with 84 hits, breaking the old mark of 80 held by Justin Fyle (2006).
“There’s some good hitters on that list, and I was fortunate enough to play with some of them during my time here as a player,” Lake said. “Brantley is a hard worker, and we are very proud of what he did this year. I’m excited to have him back for his senior year.”
The Buccaneers blasted a school-record 62 home runs this season, breaking the previous mark of 60 from 2002. Tom Burkett and Derek Smith led the way with eight each, and Chinners, Thornburg and Matt Still all had seven.
Charleston Southern will look to make huge upgrades to next years’ team, as the Bucs are losing just two seniors (Andrew White and Scotty Radabaugh) and possibly one or two players to the Major League Baseball Draft.
“We want to continue to improve on the facility side,” Lake said. “We’re going to keep working to get lights until we have lights, and we’re going to be doing some cosmetic-type things around our ballpark.
“Personnel-wise, we feel real excited about the class that will come in to join the players that are here. The first thing they judge you on in this business is your wins and losses, and we’re going to work hard starting in the fall to make sure we learn how to win next year.”
Coach Lake is moving his team in the right direction, and the future seems bright for Charleston Southern baseball.