Bucs ready for weekend showdown at Radford; Friday's series opener on ESPN3

Bucs ready for weekend showdown at Radford; Friday's series opener on ESPN3
CHARLESTON, S.C. – With the Big South Championship two weeks away, Charleston Southern gets a tournament-like test this weekend when the Buccaneers travel to No. 25 Radford. The series opener is Friday night at 7 p.m. and will be carried on ESPN3. 

The Bucs have won their last two games, both midweek contests, following last night's 11-inning roller-coaster win at Furman, 7-5.  With seven games left in the regular season, CSU head coach Stuart Lake is looking for his team to keep building momentum heading into the postseason. 

"Starting this post-exam stretch, we got together and talked about using this weekend as the start of the tournament," Lake said Thursday "We want to be at a tournament level this weekend against one of the quality of teams in our league. It will be an exciting atmosphere with graduation weekend and Radford fighting for a conference championship." 

While CSU (22-22, 9-9 Big South) is almost guaranteed of a Big South Championship berth, a series win this weekend would clinch a spot and send a message heading into the postseason.  The Bucs' starting pitching has been reliable in league play (4th in ERA), the offense has been inconsistent, scoring one run or fewer in five of the Bucs' nine conference losses. Lake believes, if his team is going to put it all together, it will have to start this weekend. 

"We've been relying on our starters and you have to," Lake added. "They've been giving us a chance in every series. We're going to have to be good in each at-bat to produce and create some runs and get some wins. We'll need to come out swinging to back up our pitching." 

The Bucs are fourth in Big South play with a team 3.17 ERA, just behind Radford (3.13 ERA). In six starts, junior Evan Raynor is third in the Big South at 44.1 innings pitched, just ahead of teammate Andrew Tomasovich at 42.1. 

PROBABLE PITCHING MATCHUPS (CSU vs. Radford) 

Game 1, Fri. 7 p.m. – LHP Andrew Tomasovich (7-5, 2.43 ERA) vs. LHP Michael Boyle (7-2, 2.43 ERA) 

Game 2, Sat. 4 p.m. – RHP Evan Raynor (4-4, 2.77 ERA) vs. RHP Dylan Nelson (6-3, 3.44 ERA) 

Game 3, Sun. 2 p.m. – RHP Kyle McDorman (1-5, 2.96 ERA) vs. LHP Mitch MacKeith (5-4, 4.59 ERA) 

Two Bucs producing at their highest level of the season are Brian Dye and Nate Blanchard. Dye is riding a CSU season-best 16-game hitting streak since moving to the starting spot at first base and sending Chase Shelton to right field. 

Blanchard is batting .468 (29-for-62) during his current 15-game hitting streak in which he's taken control of the Bucs' leadoff spot. He has had five multi-hit games in the Bucs' last six and is 10-for-his-last-15.

Radford (33-14, 14-4) leads the Big South in wins and climbed into the national poll this week at No. 25. The Highlanders have won 9-of-10 and are 22-3 since mid-March. Josh Gardiner leads RU and is third in the Big South with a .368 average, while junior closer Ryan Meisinger leads the Big South with 12 saves. 

Radford is in a three-way tie with Liberty and Coastal Carolina at 14-4 and has already won series with both teams. 

-CSU-

 

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