CHARLESTON, S.C. – Charleston Southern outhit defending Big South champion Liberty 10-6 and three Buccaneer pitchers combined to strikeout 14 batters, but Liberty snuck out of CSU Ballpark with a 3-1 win on Thursday night.
Liberty (19-10, 5-2 Big South) made two runs from a third-inning home run by Will Shepherd stand up to win the series opener. The Bucs left 12 runners on base and were just 1-for-12 with runners in scoring position in the game.
CSU (12-15, 3-4) starter Andrew Tomasovich (L, 4-3) struck out 11 in 7.2 innings, allowing only four hits. His sole blemish was Shepherd's blast in the third. Relievers Chayce Hubbard and Denis Buckley added three more strikeouts to the Bucs' season-high total for nine innings.
The Bucs made things interesting in the late innings. Sam Remick scored Nate Blanchard on an infield single in the eighth to cut the lead to 2-1. CSU pushed the tying and go-ahead runs into scoring position with two outs, but Flames' closer Alex Close (S, 3) got Brian Dye to groundout to end the threat.
Liberty added a key insurance run in the ninth. Nick Paxton singled home Becker Sankey off of Buckley to push the lead to its final margin.
Liberty starter Shawn Clowers (W, 7-1) scattered nine hits and three walks, allowing just one run. He struck out five and recorded 14 ground-ball outs.
Close finished 2-for-3 with a run scored and the save.
Four Bucs had a multi-hit game. Remick and Chase Shelton both had three hits. Shelton was 3-for-5 and scored the Bucs only run.
The Series continues on Friday at 6 p.m.