CHARLESTON, S.C. - Charleston Southern's bats came to life on Saturday afternoon as the Buccaneers evened the weekend series with visiting Virginia Commonwealth, 11-9, at the CSU Ballpark.
The Bucs (3-2) rapped out 11 hits with five going for extra bases as CSU bounced back from Friday's series-opening defeat. CSU plated three runs in the fourth, two in the fifth, and five in the seventh to climb out of an early deficit to record their third win of the season.
Nate Blanchard drilled a two-run shot to tie it up in the fourth and Cole German connected on his second home run of the season for the Bucs as CSU utilized the long ball in the win over VCU starter Sean Thompson (1-1). Mike Sconzo, Blanchard, and Jason Miller all connected on doubles to pace a CSU offensive attack that had four players record multi-hit games and four players with multi-RBI efforts.
Ryan Stoudemire (1-0) was the beneficiary of the offensive output for the Bucs with the freshman right-hander going 1.2 innings in shutout relief to pick up his first win of the season. Kyle Dyson went 2.1 innings in the start, scattering four hits and three runs (two earned) in the no-decision.
Cody Maw, Eddie Hiott, and Tyler Weekley kept the CSU lead intact before turning the ball over to Cody Smith in the eighth. Smith went the final 1.2 innings for his second save of the season picking up four strikeouts along the way.
Thompson went 3.2 innings in his second start of the season before bowing out after 3.2 innings. The right-hander allowed three hits and four runs (three earned) but was plagued by control issues with five walks in the contest. Matt Jamer allowed five CSU runs to touch the plate, while Tanner Winters and Connor Gillespie both toed the rubber for VCU.
VCU's Zac Ching opened the scoring with a leadoff solo home run in the top of the second against Dyson as the Rams touched the CSU starter early. Dyson pitched out of a bases-loaded situation in the frame with the senior showing hustle in covering first to get the final out of the inning.
The Rams added two more in the third with Ching doubling in Darian Carpenter with one out in the frame. He later came around to score on a wild pitch to give VCU the 3-0 lead.
Blanchard crossed the plate for the first time on the afternoon with two outs in the bottom of the third as the Bucs scored a run on a VCU error to cut into the lead.
CSU took their first lead of the weekend in the fourth as Blanchard connected on a two-out, 1-0 pitch driving the ball over the right field fence and scoring German. Two batters later, Jason Miller connected on his third double of the season scoring Chris Singleton to put CSU ahead 4-3.
German added to the lead in the fifth with his second home run of the season. The sophomore outfielder drilled the 2-2 offering over the right field fence scoring Sconzo to put the Bucs up 6-3 after five.
VCU brought the game back within one in the seventh with Mitchel Lacey connecting on a two-out, two-run single scoring J.P. Vail and Logan Farrar.
The Bucs answered in the bottom half of the inning with five runs to take a commanding 11-5 lead. Kyle Vesnesky brought in a pair with a two-run single and Blanchard followed with a two-run double to give the Bucs the 10-5 advantage. Jason Miller added a sacrifice fly bringing home Blanchard later in the frame.
VCU took advantage of a touch of wildness from the Bucs' bullpen to bring home four runs in the eighth. The Rams took advantage of five walks issued in the frame, while Paul Witt connected on a two-run single to cut the Bucs' lead to 11-9 before Smith entered the contest and retired Lacey and Daane Berezo on strikes to end the inning.
Both sides went down in order in the ninth with Smith getting Carpenter and Ching swinging at strike three to end the night.
- Nate Blanchard recorded his fourth multi-hit game of the season and the 49th multi-hit game of his career with his double and home run in the Saturday contest. He currently leads the Bucs with a .500 batting average on the season.
- Jason Miller has doubled in three straight games to lead the Bucs in the category on the season. He also currently leads CSU with five RBI.
- Saturday was CSU's first multi-home run game as a team in 2017 as Cole German and Nate Blanchard both connected over the right field fence. CSU's last multi-home run as a team came back on May 7, 2016, when the Bucs connected on four home runs in a 17-5 win at Winthrop.
- Kyle Vesnesky made his first collegiate hit count as the freshman shortstop connected on a two-run single in the Bucs' bottom of the seventh. His base hit brought home Alex Andronica and Aaron Miller to extend CSU's lead to 8-5 on the night.
- Cody Smith continues to put zeroes up on the scoreboard. The junior closer has gone 3.2 innings and struck out six on the season while recording a pair of saves.
"It was an outstanding offensive performance today. It felt like we've been close to breaking out for the past week; we've had guys hitting balls hard, but right at people. We had a lot of guys with good at-bats today, especially guys with their at-bats in scoring position. They did a great job of cashing in when we were in scoring position and I'm proud of those guys for stepping up today." – Interim Head Coach Adam Ward on CSU's offensive output on Saturday.
"We're going to enjoy this one tonight. We'll try to come back tomorrow with the same energy we came out with today. Obviously, it's a good team over in the other dugout. We're going to have to play well to win. We'll focus on doing the little things and keep getting after it." – Ward on playing for the series on Sunday.
Tomorrow's Probable Starters
Freshman Nik Constantakos (1-0, 1.23 ERA) is projected to get the start for Charleston Southern on Sunday. Senior left-hander Brooks Vial (0-1, 2.25 ERA) is projected to start for VCU.
First pitch between CSU and VCU is set for 2 p.m. on Sunday at the Ballpark.