CHARLESTON, S.C. – Charleston Southern's Chase Shelton hit a go-ahead three run home run in the seventh inning and closer Austin Weekley worked a perfect ninth to tie CSU's career saves record to push the Buccaneers past Winthrop, 8-6, on Friday night at CSU Ballpark.
With the win, the Bucs have won 10-of-11 games to improve to 27-21 overall and 9-12 in Big South play. Winthrop falls to 22-28 on the year and 12-10 in league play.
Shelton's towering blast highlighted a four-run seventh inning for the Bucs and gave CSU the lead for good in a game that had four lead changes. The junior sailed a fastball from Winthrop reliever Jason Driver into the trees in right field to for the game-winner. He finished 2-for-3 and scored twice to rally the Bucs from a two-run deficit entering the seventh. Third baseman Alex Tomasovich also had an RBI to get the Bucs' rally started. CSU head coach Stuart Lake was elated with the effort his team gave him late, but also quickly pointed out another strong start from his senior ace.
"Tory Schroff gave us another great start," Lake said. "Chase Shelton and Alex Tomasovich came up with some big hits in the (seventh) inning to propel us over the top. That was the difference."
Weekley (S, 10) slammed the door in the ninth – with some brilliant defensive help from Bobby Ison – to tie Payton Tweddale's CSU record of 18 career saves. His 10 saves this season are also a CSU single-season record and are the third-most in the Big South. Ison robbed Tyler Asbill of an extra-base hit tracking down a line drive with an over-the-shoulder catch to record the first out in the ninth. Weekley would get a strikeout and a one-pitch groundout to squash any hopes of a Winthrop rally.
"We've got to give Bobby [Ison] a lot of credit on that run and catch [in the ninth inning]," Lake said. "Sometimes we forget how much range he has because he just makes it look easy. But Austin Weekly came in, got the first guy out of the inning. That was huge because we knew the top of their lineup was coming up. That's where Winthrop's best hitters are."
The Buccaneers outhit Winthrop, 14-8. CSU reeled off five-straight hits with two outs in the fourth to take a 4-2 lead at the time. Zack Hagaman's 11th double of the season scored Shelton after an infield hit. Nick Berry and Cody Austin followed with RBI singles to give Schroff some run support.
Schroff worked six innings and gave up three earned runs, but did not factor into the decision. Will Hartsell (WP, 2-1) worked two innings and gave up two runs, but shutout the Eagles in the eighth and benefitted from CSU's big seventh inning.
Winthrop's Babe Thomas hit a two-run home run to score the game's first runs. T.J. Olesczuk went 2-for-4, scored twice, and had two RBI. Cody Dolan was 3-for-4 and scored a run.
The Bucs will honor nine seniors before Saturday's home game as CSU tries to take the weekend series from the Eagles. First pitch is set for 6:05 p.m.
"Tomorrow is Senior Day. Every year the whole team comes out and plays really hard to send off our seniors on a good note. We've got a ton of [seniors] this year, playing every day. That's a big deal for us. We're playing at home for one of the last times, for guys who have been here for four years. It's a special day. I'm expecting a lot of energy out of our guys.