Buccaneers match up with USC Upstate, Savannah State in midweek diamond action

Buccaneers match up with USC Upstate, Savannah State in midweek diamond action

CHARLESTON, S.C. - Charleston Southern continues its 2017 slate this week as the Buccaneers take on USC Upstate and Savannah State in non-conference competition. The Bucs will take on Upstate on Tuesday night in Lexington County Stadium in Lexington, S.C. with first pitch set for 6 p.m. CSU returns home to the CSU Ballpark on Wednesday night with game time set for 6 p.m.

Live stats for both games will be available on CSUSports.com, while updates will be provided on CSU's Game Day Twitter feed: @CSUGameDay

Probable Pitching Matchups
Tuesday: RHP Tyler Weekley (2-1, 4.50 ERA) vs. RHP Blake Whitney (2-2, 5.02 ERA)
Wednesday: RHP Corey Ireson (0-0, 0.00 ERA) vs. TBD

Leading Off

  • Kyle Dyson striking out the side in the fifth was the fourth time a CSU pitcher has struck out the side this season, and third time this past week. Nik Constantakos recorded the first one against Longwood to start the Saturday game. Cody Smith recorded a perfect eighth in the midweek contest against South Carolina. Daniel Johnson became the third Buc to reach the mark with a perfect sixth on Friday night against the Flames.
  • CSU's 13 strikeouts as a pitching staff in Sunday's game was one off of the season-high and just the staff's sixth double-digit strikeout performance in 2017. The Bucs set the season mark with 14 in CSU's 4-2 win over Virginia Commonwealth on February 26th in the series finale against the Rams.
  • Brandon Gragilla's two-run home run in the eighth made the senior designated hitter the third Buccaneer to record multiple home runs in the season. He joins Cole German (3) and Nate Blanchard (2) as the only Bucs with multiple home runs this year.
  • Charleston Southern improves to 5-0 on Sunday in the 2017 season as the Bucs picked up their fifth win of the season on the first/last day of the week depending on personal preference of the calendar. CSU has had the opposite kind of luck on Fridays with a 0-6 record on the final day of the American work week following the weekend.
  • CSU will look to get back on track this week after dropping five of their last contests. The Bucs ended their longest losing streak of the season at three games on Sunday afternoon with their 11-4 win over the Flames.
  • Tuesday night will be the first rematch for the Bucs in the 2017 season as CSU takes on USC Upstate for the second time. The Bucs won the previous matchup on March 1 at the CSU Ballpark, 4-3.

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.

Bucs against the Spartans
Charleston Southern as a program has a lifetime 7-8 record against the Spartans following the Bucs' 4-3 win at home on March 1.

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 in the first matchup. 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 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 fell to 12-14 in 2017 after dropping all three games this weekend against Rutgers. The Scarlet Knights topped the Spartans by scores of 5-1, 10-7, and 11-3, to snap a two-game winning streak for Upstate.

Who to Watch for
Charlie Carpenter continues to lead the Upstate offense on the season with a .340 batting average, 33 hits, and five home runs to pace the Spartans. Zach Krider is close behind with a .339 batting average and six doubles, while J.J. Shimko leads the team with 21 RBI. Devon Ortiz leads Upstate with 24 runs scored. Blake Whitney, Upstate's projected starter, has made 10 appearances and four starts on the mound in 2017 and has posted a 41:17 strikeout-to-walk ratio.

About the Tigers
Savannah State was picked fourth in the Southern Division in the MEAC Baseball Preseason Poll. The Tigers received 33 points and one first place vote overall after posting a 12-40 record and 7-17 mark in conference play in 2016. Sophomore outfielder Khalyd Cox was selected to the preseason MEAC Second Team.

Bucs against Savannah State
Charleston Southern is 19-11 against Savannah State according to the available CSU archives. The Bucs won their lone matchup against the Tigers last season at the Tiger Baseball Field on April 13, 10-4. CSU piled up 17 hits and held Savannah State to three singles over the final six innings to pick up the midweek win. Nate Blanchard, Sly Edwards, and Chris Singleton all had three hits for the Buccaneers and five CSU pitchers combined for 12 strikeouts and one earned run.   

Last Out for the Tigers
Savannah State has lost seven straight after sweeping Mount St. Mary's in a three-game weekend series on March 9-11. The Tigers fell to Florida A&M (three times), North Florida, and N.C. Central (three times). Savannah State will take on Georgia on Tuesday night before their Wednesday contest against the Bucs.

Who to Watch For
Bryce Luken leads the Savannah State offense with a .375 batting average with a team-high 33 hits on the season. Turner Davis is hitting .315 from the plate with one of SSU's three home runs on the year while leading the team with 20 RBI. Jalen Atterbury and Hector Benitez lead SSU with nine stolen bases apiece on the year.

Buccaneers in Lexington
CSU will play twice in Lexington County Stadium this season including their Tuesday night matchup against USC Upstate. CSU will also travel to the neutral site location on April 25 for a 6 p.m. contest against Wofford. Lexington County Stadium will also serve as the location of the 2017 Big South Conference Baseball Championships held on May 23-27.

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