CHARLESTON, S.C. – After playing its first two series of the season at Joe Riley Park, Charleston Southern will make its home debut on Friday night at CSU Ballpark against UMass. First pitch of the series opener is at 6 p.m.
CSU (3-5) has played 5-of-its-first eight games against the likes of West Virginia and Georgia, none of which were true home games. The Buccaneers now get to debut in their friendly confines and open a five-game homestand with a UMass team playing its season opener on Friday.
Probable Pitching Matchups (CSU vs. UMass)
Joe Riley Park – Charleston, S.C.
DH - Saturday, 12 p.m. - RHP Evan Raynor (2-0, 0.64 ERA) vs. RHP Ryan Moloney
Game 2 - LHP Daniel Johnson (1-1, 6.75 ERA) vs. RHP Tim Cassidy
Sunday TBA– RHP Jon Piriz (0-1, 0.74 ERA) vs. TBA
Both teams will try to settle into their new seasons and surroundings, but CSU head coach Stuart Lake couldn't argue on Thursday that the weekend holds some extra excitement.
"There is no doubt (it holds a little extra excitement)," Lake said. "We'll get up on Friday, take the tarp off and get to work on a normal gameday. We've played in some nice places, but it'll be good to be in our own dugout and play in front of our fans, friends, and family. Hopefully we can continue to pitch and play.
Raynor isn't the only Buc leading the way on the mound. RHP Jon Piriz might have the best numbers of any 0-1 pitcher with two starts in all of college baseball. Piriz has a 0.74 ERA in 12.1 innings of work and has an 11-to-2 strikeout-to-walk ratio.
The Buc' offense has shown signs of life and nearly swung CSU out of a 4-0 hole at Georgia last night. CSU fell 5-3 in the series finale against the Bulldogs, but rallied late with three runs in the eighth. Nate Blanchard had a seven-game hitting streak snapped in the loss, but is batting .375 and leads CSU with 12 hits. Sophomore Chris Singleton has nine hits and nine home runs.
SCOUTING THE MINUTEMEN: UMass is coming off a 16-27 season in which it went 12-12 in the Atlantic 10. RHP Ryan Moloney was the only UMass pitcher last season with four wins (4-4) on the year. He returns and will anchor a pitching staff that will try and support a lineup which lost its top two hitters from last season.