COLUMBIA, S.C. – Charleston Southern rallied for four late runs and put the tying run on in the ninth, but could not complete the comeback in a 5-4 loss at South Carolina on Saturday afternoon at Founders Park.
CSU (8-7) scored its first run of the series in the seventh and then put up three more runs in the eight to pull within one, but closer Josh Reagan (S, 5) was able to get Brandon Burris ground out for the final out, ending the Bucs' rally.
South Carolina (14-2) hit two early home runs and a CSU error led to a fifth run as the Gamecocks built a 5-0 lead, but unlike Friday night, the Bucs kept putting runners on and eventually started finding two-out hits to put pressure on the Gamecocks.
The late push was a testament to the toughness CSU head coach Stuart Lake has praised his team for all season long.
"I felt we challenged them the whole game," Lake said following the loss. "They're a good team. They don't make errors and they don't walk guys. It really makes it hard to get extra runs. I'm proud of my guys. I thought they showed today what they really are about fight back like that."
Junior Mason McClellan was 3-for-4 and his double in the seventh inning sparked the Buc offense. A leadoff single from Chris Singleton and McClellan's helped plate the Bucs' first run on an RBI ground out from Kevin Hickey to cut the lead to 5-1 after seven.
The Bucs did all their work in the eighth with two outs.
Sly Edwards tripled and scored on a single by Bryan Dye to shave the lead to 5-2. Chris Singleton and a wild pitch from USC reliever Brandon Murray set up McClellan's second big swing of the night, a double into the gap in right field to cut it to the final score.
USC took the early lead on a two-run home run by Alex Destino in the first. Johnosn retired the first two batters he faced, but a two-out single set the stage for Destino's fourth home run into the bullpen in right center.
Carolina pushed the lead to 4-0 on the fourth on a two-run home run by Dom Thompson-Williams, his second home run in as many nights. The Bucs would gift Carolina the decisive run in the fifth on a two-base throwing error, leading to an unearned run.
Edwards finished 2-for-3 for CSU with a walk and scored a run.
Destino, Thompson-Williams, and T.J. Hopkins each had two hits for USC.
South Carolina starter Braden Webb pitched 5.2 innings, surrendering only three hits and striking out four.
The series finale is set for 1:30 p.m. on Sunday at Founders Park.