LYNCHBURG, Va. – Sophomore Daniel Johnson held Liberty to two hits through seven innings and Wil Hartsell shut the door, recording the final six outs, to lift Charleston Southern to a 6-1 win at Liberty on Saturday.
CSU improves to 13-18 overall and 2-6 in Big South play. Liberty falls to 18-15 overall and 4-4 in conference play. The win evens the series at a win a piece with the rubber game coming on Sunday at 2 p.m. at Liberty Baseball Stadium.
Liberty scored a run without the aid of a hit in the first, but the final eight innings belong to the Buccaneers. Johnson (W, 4-3) struck out six and pitched around four walks, allowing only three singles in seven innings of work. The Flames loaded the bases with no outs in the eighth, but Wil Hartsell (S, 1) came on to induce an infield popup and a double play to preserve the five-run lead.
"(Johnson) just gave us a tremendous start," CSU Head Coach Stuart Lake said following the win. "He pitched well and we played well around him. I don't think we could have made it tougher for Hartsell to come in there late, but it's great to have him back. He kind of put an end to it there with the double play."
Chris Singleton kept the pressure on throughout the day, going 4-for-5 and scoring a run. Ryan Maksim added a 3-for-3 afternoon with three RBI. Cole Murphy tripled and scored on a wild pitch in the eighth for the Bucs' final run.
"Chris (Singleton) had a big day and always seemed to be on base." Lake added of the Bucs' offense. "It seemed like Maksim came up in a few big spots and really delivered. We kept creating (scoring opportunities) for ourselves. We caught a couple of breaks that haven't been going our way. We need to keep it going tomorrow and get a big series win."
CSU pieced together the offense it needed, outhitting the Flames 11-3. Brandon Gragilla's double gave the Bucs runners in scoring position in the second. Maksim came through with a two-run single to give CSU a 2-1 lead.
The Bucs added to their lead late. Scoring with the help of four Liberty errors. Zander Clouse's throwing error on a Kevin Hickey sacrifice bunt opened the door for two runs in the eighth. Mike Sconzo was 2-for-3 and scored twice, added a sacrifice fly in the innings.