CHARLESTON, S.C. – Charleston Southern will take a five-game winning streak to South Carolina this weekend along with some serious confidence.
The Buccaneers played their most complete game of the season in a 3-1 win over USC Upstate on Wednesday night at CSU Ballpark. CSU (8-5) has won five games in five days and is now 3-0 in true home games.
The Bucs scored three late runs to hand Upstate ace Zach Mitchell (L, 3-1) his first loss of the season. CSU is the first team to score an earned run on Mitchell. A game full of good at-bats helped the Bucs tie the game in the sixth and seize control with two more runs in the seventh. It would be hard to hide the fact that CSU head coach Stuart Lake likes the edge his team is beginning to show.
"They feel like their innings are six thru eight," Lake said following the win. "They were confident they were going to get going and just kept putting together good (at-bats). Their confidence is impressive and then to go out and get the runs we needed. It was the difference. This is a big win for us because (Upstate) is a good team."
Starter Evan Nations (W, 1-1) had the best start of his career and three relievers combined for seven strikeouts over the final three innings. CSU seemed to wear down the Spartans in a midweek contest that had Friday-quality pitching.
"Both starters (pitched well), it seemed like it took an hour to play five innings," Lake said. "I just told Nations 'great start' and three great efforts out of our bullpen."
Nations worked six innings, striking out four and surrendering a lone run in the fifth on a leadoff double by Jordan Ford and a sacrifice fly from Hunter Gilbert. Cody Smith worked around two hits to strike out the side, while Alex Ministeri and Chayce Hubbard (S, 3) each had two strikeouts.
CSU's offense wasn't as explosive as it had been with 31 combined hits in its two previous games, but it produced when it counted.
The Bucs knotted the game in the sixth on a sacrifice fly by Chris Singleton, his team-leading 14th RBI of the season. Sly Edwards dashed home on a fly ball in foul territory down the right field line to tie the game 1-1. Edwards reached on a one-out single, moving around on a single by Bryan Dye.
Dye finished 3-for-4 and Edwards and Blanchard each had two hits as the Bucs outhit Upstate, 11-7.
J.J. Shimko was 3-for-3 for the Spartans.
CSU travels to Columbia to face South Carolina in a three-game series on Friday. The series opener is set for 7 p.m. at Carolina Stadium.