CHARLESTON, S.C. – While one of the most successful classes in Charleston Southern history plays their final home series this weekend against Presbyterian, Buccaneer head coach Stuart Lake knows there is something much more important on the line: momentum.
CSU hosts PC in a three-game series beginning on Thursday night at CSU Ballpark. First pitch of the opener is at 6 p.m. All three games will be carried on the Big South Network.
With the Big South Championship beginning next week, the Bucs are trying to enter the postseason on a high note after a tough weekend series at Radford and a Tuesday loss to College of Charleston, both of which are NCAA Tournament bound.
"Momentum is key right now going into the tournament," Lake said Wednesday. "We need to get back to playing with an edge. We've got a ton of respect for PC and they've had a successful year in non-conference play with some big wins. We know they're a very good team and we'll have to be up to the challenge."
The Bucs have already clinched a spot in the Big South Championship, which begins with four games on Tuesday. The opener is at 9 a.m. in Boiling Springs, N.C. on the Gardner-Webb campus.
CSU can climb as high as the No. 6 seed, while Presbyterian has been eliminated from the postseason.
The Buc seniors will make their fourth consecutive Big South Championship appearance next week. It's a group Lake knows has helped move the program forward in every way.
"They've been a great group," Lake said. "The (junior college) guys are great, but there are some really special four-year players in this group. We've joked with Buckley because he's been here for five (missed 2013 with Tommy John). They've beaten South Carolina and Clemson, won a lot of games, and have really been a good locker room and dugout guys. They've also been really good in the classroom, we've been better than ever academically this year."
PROBABLE PITCHING MATCHUPS (CSU vs. PC)
Game 1, 6 p.m. Thurs. – LHP Andrew Tomasovich (7-6, 2.91 ERA) vs. LHP Brian Kehner (1-3, 6.35 ERA)
Game 2, 4 p.m. Fri. – RHP Kyle McDorman (1-6, 3.21 ERA) vs. LHP Beau Dees (2-5, 6.46 ERA)
Game 3, 2 p.m. Sat. – TBA vs. RHP Tanner Chock (2-5, 4.85 ERA)
SENIOR SENDOFF – Nine Bucs will make their final appearance at CSU Ballpark this weekend. Sam Remick (Huntersville, N.C.), Chase Shelton (Columbia, S.C.), Denis Buckley (McLean, Va), Robbie Streett (Lexington, S.C.), Austin Weekley (James Island, S.C.), Andrew Widell (Valrico, Fla.), Kyle McDorman (Niceville, Fla.), Joe Pistacchio (Cary, N.C.), Jordan Smith (Marcellus, N.Y.) will all play their final game at CSU Ballpark this weekend. They will be honored in a ceremony before Saturday's series finale.
CLASS ACCOMPLISHMENTS – This Bucs senior class won a school-record D-1 games last season during a 30-26 season. This class also played big in picking up key in-state wins over Clemson (2015) and South Carolina (2014), this season's win over the Tigers was CSU's first over Clemson in 17 games. It has also had eight and seven game winning streaks in the last two seasons, the school record is nine-straight wins. The Bucs have also qualified for the Big South Championship in all four seasons.
SENIOR RECORDS – CSU says goodbye to a pair of record-setting seniors. In April, Chase Shelton became CSU's all-time hits leader and has 266 hits for his career. He has a chance, with strong final week or so, to climb onto the Top 10 of the Big South's all-time list. Senior Austin Weekley had his career and final season cut short by arm issues, but it didn't keep the Charleston-area product from setting the CSU saves record for a single season (11 is 2014) and a career (22).