CHARLESTON, S.C. - Andrew Widell broke a 3-3 tie in the bottom of the seventh with a two-run double and Austin Weekley pitched three innings of shutout relief as Charleston Southern took the series finale against visiting Gardner-Webb on Sunday afternoon at the CSU Ballpark, 5-3.
Widell's double came with one out in the bottom of the seventh to put the Buccaneers back in the lead for good as his shot in the left centerfield gap drove in Sam Remick and Bobby Ison to put CSU ahead 5-3. Weekley (2-4) closed out the action over the final two innings, allowing one runner on base in both the eighth and ninth innings, but the CSU defense held behind the junior reliever in completing the victory.
"We talked about this coming into this series," CSU baseball head coach Stuart Lake had to say following the game. "You'd like to go into every series and sweep the team. But that's really hard to do. So let's try to win series and see where we stand at the end of the season. Taking two out of three from any conference opponent is always a good thing. This was one of those "must wins" if you want to say something like that. We are on the road for the next two weeks, so this is huge for us."
Charleston Southern improves to 18-20, 4-11 in Big South Conference play with the win over the Runnin' Bulldogs, while Gardner-Webb falls to 16-20, 7-8 in conference action.
Gardner-Webb battled their way back into the game in the sixth and seventh innings, cutting a 3-1 deficit in bringing it back to a tie game before Widell's heroics in the seventh.
The Runnin' Bulldogs put the score at 3-2 in the sixth inning as Henry Rundio singled in Scott Johnson with one out in the inning, while GWU tied the game up in the seventh on Tyler Best's RBI single bringing in Ryan Hodge.
Gardner-Webb was the first to score in the contest, plating a run in the top of the first inning to take the early lead. With two outs in the frame, Matt Simmons connected on the pitch from CSU starter Andrew Tomasovich for an RBI single up the middle, scoring JJ Nazzaro to put the Runnin' Bulldogs ahead in their first at-bats.
Charleston Southern rallied back in the bottom half of the frame to take the lead. Ison led off the inning with a single up the middle, advancing to second on a Widell sacrifice bunt. Alex Tomasovich followed with a double to centerfield, scoring Ison to knot the game up at 1-1. Two batters later, Zack Hagaman followed with a double of his own, this one to right centerfield to plate Tomasovich and give CSU the 2-1 lead.
Ison provided the key hit for the Bucs in the bottom of the second inning, pushing the CSU advantage to 3-1 early as the junior centerfielder singled in Kevin Hickey with two outs against GWU starter Erik Heiligenstadt (2-5).
Weekley picked up his second win of the season in throwing three innings of shutout relief. He scattered three hits while striking out one in the effort on the afternoon. Tomasovich went the first six innings in the contest, allowing nine hits and all three GWU runs on the afternoon, while striking out two.
Heiligenstadt suffered the loss on the afternoon going 6.1 innings in allowing nine hits and five runs in the contest. Brad Haymes closed out the action going the final 1.2 innings for the Runnin' Bulldogs.
Ison led the Buccaneers from the plate in the contest, reaching in four of his five plate appearances with two hits, two runs and an RBI in the game. He also drew two walks in the CSU victory. Hickey added two hits of his own for the Bucs in the contest.
"I'm really proud of Andrew Tomasovich. We really needed a quality start after last night's game. For him to go out there, and be pitching into the seventh inning was a huge start for us and for him. Andrew Widell with a big hit to win the game for us as well. Kevin Hickey made the most of his opportunity today in the start. To me, he was a huge part of our offense today with two hits and a sacrifice bunt."
The Buccaneers head back on the road this week as CSU travels up I-26 on Tuesday afternoon to face off with #4 South Carolina in Columbia, S.C. First pitch between the Bucs and the Gamecocks at Carolina Stadium is set for 7 p.m. Charleston Southern remains on the road next weekend as CSU travels to Asheville, N.C., for a three-game Big South series against UNC Asheville starting on Thursday night with first pitch at 6 p.m.