Midweek match-ups at USC Upstate and South Carolina highlight baseball schedule this week

Midweek match-ups at USC Upstate and South Carolina highlight baseball schedule this week

CHARLESTON, S.C. - Charleston Southern continues non-conference play with a pair of matchups against in-state rivals this week as the Buccaneers travel to USC Upstate (Tuesday) and #8 South Carolina (Wednesday).

First pitch at Harley Park in CSU's Tuesday night matchup with the Spartans is set for 6 p.m. The Buccaneers' contest in Columbia against the Gamecocks at Founders Park is slated for a 7 p.m. first pitch.

Live stats for CSU's Tuesday night game can be found at UpstateSpartans.com. Live Stats, Audio, and the SEC Network+ links for Wednesday's game can be found at GamecocksOnline.com. As always, all links are also posted on CSUSports.com on the baseball schedule.

CSU Weekly Notes - at USC Upstate, at South Carolina

Probable Pitching Matchups
Tuesday: RHP Corey Ireson (0-0, 0.00 ERA) vs. RHP Blake Whitney (2-2, 4.76 ERA)
Wednesday: RHP Tyler Weekley (2-0, 4.66 ERA) vs. TBD

Leading Off

  • Jason Miller extended his team-best nine-game hitting streak on Sunday afternoon as the redshirt sophomore infielder connected on a season-high four hits in the contest. He added his team-high sixth double of the season in the game and has hit safely in 14 of CSU's 17 games in the 2017 season.
  • CSU ended its losing streak at two games and prevented the series sweep for the second time in the 2017 season. The Bucs also fell in their first two games at Florida International before taking the Saturday series finale.
  • CSU improved to 2-0 in extra-inning contests in the 2017 season with the Bucs picking up their second free baseball win of the year on Sunday. CSU previously took an 8-7 decision over Hofstra on March 5th in 11 innings with Jason Miller providing the game-winning walk-off single scoring Chris Singleton.
  • Nik Constantakos became the third CSU pitcher this season to strike out the first four batters he faced in a contest with the freshman RHP starting off Saturday's game with four consecutive punch-outs. He joins Eddie Hiott and Wil Hartsell who both achieved the mark previously this season.
  • Charleston Southern continues to struggle in Big South Conference openers as the Buccaneers again dropped their conference-opening series this past weekend against Longwood. That makes four in a row the Bucs have fallen in their conference weekend opening-series dating back to the 2013 season.
  • Wednesday's South Carolina match-up is CSU's first against a team ranked in the polls with the Gamecocks sitting eighth in the D1Baseball.com poll at the time of the release. The Bucs will also take on Clemson later this season with the Tigers ranked seventh overall in the same poll.
  • The two midweek games end a five-game road trip as the Bucs look to return home this weekend with a Big South series against Liberty. The Bucs will have been on the road for eight of their last nine entering the Friday night matchup against the Flames.

About the Spartans
USC Upstate was picked seventh overall in the Atlantic Sun baseball preseason poll announced ahead of the season. The Spartans received 16 points overall and are coming off of a season that included a 22-30 overall record and 5-15 mark in conference play. The Spartans' speed was of note in the 2016 season with Upstate leading the A-Sun in triples (22) on the season and return three of its top-five OPS leaders in Devon Ortiz (.923), Charlie Carpenter (.873) and J.J. Shimko (.756). The Spartan starting lineup will boast a number of fresh faces this season after losing 12 players with playing time this offseason.

Buccaneers against USC Upstate
Charleston Southern as a program has a lifetime 7-8 record against the Spartans after CSU took the March 1 match-up against Upstate at the CSU Ballpark, 4-3.

Bucs-Spartans – Part Two
Brandon Gragilla came through with a pair of timely hits, including his first home run of the season, as Charleston Southern topped visiting USC Upstate at the Ballpark, 4-3. Gragilla launched a two-out, 2-1 pitch over the centerfield fence to narrow the Bucs' deficit down to 3-2 in the bottom of the fifth. The senior designated hitter followed with the game-tying RBI single in his next at-bat in the bottom of the seventh sparking the go-ahead rally in the frame. Michael Sconzo followed Gragilla's single with a sacrifice fly driving home Jason Miller to put CSU (5-2) ahead for good. Wil Hartsell and Cody Smith recorded perfect eighth and ninth frames to close out the Buccaneer victory.

Last Out for Upstate
Upstate took two of three this past weekend from visiting Quinnipiac as the Spartans won game one, 5-3, and the series finale on Sunday, 5-3. Since March 4, USC Upstate has posted an 8-4 record with wins over LaSalle (twice), Monmouth, Quinnipiac (twice), Wofford, Longwood, and Pittsburgh.

Who to Watch For
Upstate has been led by infielder Charlie Carpenter's bat in the 2017 season with the junior posting a team-best .354 batting average with five home runs and 19 RBI. Brendan Brundage also leads the way for the Spartans with a .345 batting average and a team-high 30 hits on the year. Tuesday's projected starter Blake Whitney has a 2-2 record and 4.76 ERA on the season with a 34:14 strikeout-to-walk ratio.

About the Gamecocks
South Carolina was picked second in the SEC Eastern Division with 61 points and four first place votes overall. The Gamecocks are coming off of a 46-18 season and a 20-9 conference mark on their way to making it to the 2016 Super Regionals. USC was knocked off in the Super Regional round by Oklahoma State. Reliever Tyler Johnson and designated hitter/utility player Alex Destino were both selected to the SEC Baseball Preseason Teams. 

Bucs against South Carolina
CSU is 14-66 all-time against the Gamecocks in program history. The last CSU win over USC came in the 2014 season when the Bucs picked up the 4-1 win over the Gamecocks behind a strong pitching performance by Joe Pistacchio and Denis Buckley. USC swept the weekend series last season against the Bucs on March 11-13.

Last Out for USC
South Carolina has won seven in a row since falling two out of three against in-state rival Clemson. The Gamecocks have topped The Citadel, Winthrop, Michigan State (twice), and all three this past weekend against Tennessee to improve to 14-5 overall in the 2017 season.

Who to Watch For
Matt Williams has been the batting leader at the plate for the Gamecocks with a stout .397 batting average and a team-high 23 hits. Alex Destino is also over .300 with a .304 average and a team-high 17 RBI, while tying for the team lead with four home runs. As a pitching staff, USC has posted a 2.90 ERA on the season with a 205:77 strikeout-to-walk ratio.

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