CHARLESTON, S.C. – Chris Singleton tried to down play Charleston Southern's win over West Virginia in the Buccaneers' season opener on Friday as just another game, but it wasn't. The emotion in Singleton's voice following the win told you it wasn't.
Singleton went 2-for-4 and drove in three of CSU's four runs in a 4-3 win over the Mountaineers at Joe Riley Park. It was the first time he put on a college uniform since losing his mother in last June's tragedy and he played, inarguably, one of the best games of his career. His mother would have been proud of her son and he knew it.
"I definitely do (feel like she would have been proud)," an emotional Singleton said. "I can imagine, if she had been here, she would have been screaming the whole game because I played well and we won. We played well today. We competed and got a big win to start the season. I'm just happy for this team."
His mother would have been proud and CSU head coach Stuart Lake made sure he knew she wasn't the only one.
"Just as a baseball fan, how can you not enjoy that?" Lake asked of Singleton's effort. "As a coach, as a dad, I'm proud of him. What a special moment and the toughness he has showed through everything…not just him, this team. Even there in the ninth inning, we had to show we were tough."
Singleton battled through a long at bat to drive in CSU's fist runs of the season. He gave the Bucs a 2-1 lead in the fourth with a two-run double into the left field corner. He slapped an RBI single into right in the ninth to score Sly Edwards on what would be the decisive run of the game.
Starter Evan Raynor (WP, 1-0) limited the Mountaineers to a solo home run in six innings of work. He struck out five and scattered four hits to get the most impressive win of his career.
"It's a good start," Lake added. "I'm just proud. We gave out two game balls, one to Evan Raynor. He started last year in the worst conditions (at WVU) you could imagine and bounced back against them with a great start today. Also, Chris Singleton."
CSU took a 4-1 lead into the ninth, but found itself in some trouble following a leadoff triple and an error. Closer Chayce Hubbard (S, 1) also shook off an infield single in the inning to strike out Darius Cole for the final out of the game.
Nate Blanchard hit his first career home run in the bottom of the eighth to tack on an insurance run at the time. He was 2-for-4 and scored twice.
Jackson Cramer belted a solo home run for West Virginia to lead off the second inning. Starter Chad Donato (L, 0-1) took the loss, but gave up two unearned runs in 5.1 innings of work.
The two teams play again tomorrow at 11 a.m. at Joe Riley Park.