BIG SOUTH STARTER: Bucs host Liberty in Big South home opener on Thursday

BIG SOUTH STARTER: Bucs host Liberty in Big South home opener on Thursday

CHARLESTON, S.C. – After over two weeks away from CSU Ballpark, Charleston Southern returns home to host Liberty this weekend in its Big South Conference home opener. The series opens on Thursday night. First pitch is at 6 p.m.

CSU (12-14, 3-3 Big South) comes off a stretch of 11-of-12 games away from CSU Ballpark and has played at home only once since early March. The Buccaneers are the final team in the Big South to play a home conference series this season.

With 12 home games in the month of April, the Buccaneers have a chance to get comfortable at home, where they are 8-6 this season. After playing in sub-freezing temperatures last weekend at West Virginia, CSU head coach Stuart Lake is ready the home conference season – and spring – at CSU Ballpark.

"It will be good to get our guys back and get them back in our routine of going to class and practice and to the weight room," Lake said Wednesday. "We've played in some really miserable conditions at times these last few weeks. Hopefully being back here in Charleston will bring us some baseball weather."

PROBABLE PITCHING MATCHUPS - CSU vs. Liberty

6 p.m. – LHP Andrew Tomasovich (4-2, 2.57 ERA) vs. LHP Shawn Clowers (6-1, 2.15 ERA)

6 p.m. – RHP Evan Raynor (2-2, 2.54 ERA) vs. LHP Jared Lyons (4-0, 1.23 ERA)

2 p.m. – RHP Kyle McDorman (2-1, 6.33 ERA) vs. LHP Victor Cole (2-1, 3.19 ERA)

Both teams feature strong weekend rotations. CSU's rotation has allowed only five earned runs in five Big South starts and have combined for a 1.18 ERA in league play. Liberty's three weekend starters are a combined 12-1, led by Shawn Clowers' Big South best six wins (6-11).

"I think you'll see some of the best starting pitching the Big South has to offer," Lake said. "A lot will be determined this weekend by which team's starter have that 'quality start' and controls the game. Liberty is a very hot team right now, they just swept PC and I think have won (four) in a row. We'll have to pitch well and play good defense to have a chance to win."

Senior Robbie Streett and junior Cole Murphy have been hot in Big South play and in the month of March, despite the cold conditions. Streett is batting a CSU-best .444, while Murphy checks in just under .400. While CSU is batting only .250 in conference play as a team, Bucs' opponents have fared even worse with a .240 average.

Liberty (18-10, 4-2) comes to Charleston off a sweep of Presbyterian and a midweek win over Old Dominion during a 4-0 week. First baseman Alex Close leads the Flames with a .370 average and 40 hits, while catcher Becker Sankey has a Big South-leading eight home runs.

The Flames have reached the NCAA Tournament each of the last two seasons.

The Bucs are 3-3 in Big South play after road trips to Longwood and UNC Asheville. CSU closes the season with four of its final six conference series at CSU Ballpark, including Liberty this weekend, Gardner-Webb (April 10-12), and Winthrop (April 24-26).

The Bucs will wear Baptist College throwback uniforms against Gardner-Webb next Saturday.

-CSU-

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