May 17, 2014

Bucs handle VMI, 11-2; Clinch berth in Big South Champonship

LEXINGTON, Va. – Charleston Southern scored the first seven runs of the day to beat VMI 11-2 in the opener and clinch a berth in this week's Big South Championship. VMI would grab a 4-3 win with an unearned run in the ninth inning of game two as the teams split a Big South doubleheader on Saturday at Gray-Minor Stadium.
CSU's surge to open the day removed any potential drama from the nightcap as far as the Bucs' postseason life was concerned. The Bucs started the day with hopes of a South Division title, but needed a sweep and a Longwood win. A Winthrop win early over Longwood dashed those CSU hopes. Bucs' head coach Stuart Lake thought his team was at their best with their season on the line.   

"We were all nervous to start the day," Lake said. "VMI was playing so hard to keep their season going too. We knew what was on the line and for Andrew Tomasovich to give that sort of performance and the offense to score early and often, I was very proud of our response." 

Tomasovich (WP, 7-2) worked six innings and held VMI to four hits and an earned run while the Buc offense piled up hits and runs. Six Bucs had multi-hits games and the top six of the CSU lineup combined to go 14-for-23. Chase Shelton and Nick Berry each had three hits and combined for six RBI. 

The Bucs finish the regular season at 30-24 overall, tying a school-record with their 30th win against an all-Division I schedule. The total matches the 1996 squad's mark of 30-24-1 and is two wins shy of the program record of 32 wins. 

The Bucs lost three one-run games to close out the regular season, but Lake feels like the momentum his team created over the last month and a half – as well as some much needed rest in Saturday's second game – has his team ready for a postseason run. 

"I want to win them all just like everybody, but I wanted to get some guys some rest," Lake added. "We've given ourselves a chance, going in (to the Big South Championship) as a No. 7 seed like softball. "Now we have a chance to play our way into a regional, which is all we could ask for when we were 2-11 in conference play." 

Game 1 – Charleston Southern 11, VMI 2 

After nearly rallying from a seven-run deficit on Friday night, CSU controlled the entire game in Saturday's opener. Nick Berry hit a two-run home run and had four RBI as CSU led throughout. 

Chase Shelton's two-run single in the first gave the Bucs an early 2-0 lead. Bobby Ison set the tone with a lead off double. A double play and a base-running error kept the inning from being bigger than it could have. 

The Bucs added three runs in the third to give Tomasovich all the run support he would need. Brother, Alex, drove home Kevin Hickey with a sacrifice fly and Berry had an RBI single as CSU extended the lead to 5-0.  Hagaman also had a sacrifice fly in the frame to go with his 2-for-4 afternoon. 

Berry hit his fifth home run of the season in the fifth to run VMI starter Connor Bach (LP, 2-7) to build the lead to 7-0. 

CSU outhit VMI, 16-7. Andrew Widell added a 2-for-3 day and scored three runs, while Ison had two hits and also scored twice. 

Eric Mayers was 3-for-3 with an RBI for VMI. 

Game 2 – VMI 4, Charleston Southern 3 

The Keydets rallied from a late one-run deficit to win the regular-season finale in dramatic fashion. Buc catcher Sam Remick's throw on a would-be strikeout to force extra innings sailed into right field to allow VMI to win the nightcap, 4-3. 

The Bucs made two errors in the ninth inning as VMI rallied to win the finale. 

Zack Hagaman had a two-run triple to carry the Bucs' offense. Andrew Widell added a pair of hits, scored a run, and had an RBI. 

Locked into an early game on Tuesday in the Big South Championship, Lake played 20 Bucs in the game and let starters Alex Tomasovich and Bobby Ison – both of whom have started every game the last two seasons – rest after early at-bats. 

Starter Levi Mauldin pitched only two innings. Closer Austin Weekley (LP, 2-6) took a hard-luck loss on the unearned run. 

-CSU-

 

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