CHARLESTON, S.C. - Charleston Southern's ninth-inning rally fell short on Thursday night at the CSU Ballpark as the Buccaneers fell to visiting Gardner-Webb, 6-3.
The Bucs (16-17, 5-8) loaded the bases with one out in the bottom of the ninth inning following singles by Alex Andronica, Aaron Miller, and Jason Miller to put the game-winning run at the plate. Gardner-Webb relief ace Wil Sellers (S, 6) buckled down and retired Brandon Gragilla on strikes and was able to get Mike Sconzo to fly out to right to stall the CSU rally and end the contest in favor of the visitors.
Jason Miller led the Bucs at the plate with a 4-for-5 performance from the batter's box on Thursday night. Miller connected on a two-out RBI triple in the third and added singles in the first, seventh, and ninth innings to pace the CSU offense.
Aaron Miller continued to have the hot bat at the plate for the Buccaneers with a 3-for-5 performance of his own. The reigning Big South Freshman of the Week connected on a solo home run in the bottom of the fifth inning and added singles in the first and ninth innings to sit among the CSU leaders on the day.
Gragilla, Chris Singleton, and Andronica also added multi-hit games on the evening as the Bucs rapped out 14 hits in the game against the GWU (17-16, 6-4) pitching staff in the contest.
Zach Mosay (5-3) earned the win for the Runnin' Bulldogs going the first six innings. The right-hander allowed nine hits and three runs while striking out three. Jarrett Thompson bridged the gap with two innings of shutout relief, before Sellers pitched GWU out of trouble in the ninth to pick up the save.
Nik Constantakos (3-2) suffered the loss on the day going 5.1 innings and scattering 10 hits and six runs (four earned) while striking out six. Ryan Stoudemire pitched CSU out of the sixth inning, while Daniel Johnson struck out six over the final three innings to close out the game. As a staff, CSU did not allow a walk in the game for the first time in the 2017 season.
Gardner-Webb took the early 2-0 lead in the top of the third following a pair of doubles from Mason Fox and Mickey Dugan. Fox led off the inning with a double down the left field line. Two batters later, Paul Trick singled up the middle scoring Fox for the first run of the contest. Dugan followed with a double that skipped inside the first base bag down the right field line scoring Trick to give GWU the 2-0 advantage.
Andronica and Jason Miller took one back for the Bucs in the bottom half of the inning. Andronica led off the frame with a double down the left field line. He advanced to third on a passed ball before coming around to score on Miller's triple to right field to narrow the lead to 2-1.
Danny Sullivan added to the GWU lead in the top of the fourth with a leadoff solo home run to centerfield.
The Bucs answered in the bottom half of the frame as Kyle Vesnesky hustled around the bases on Singleton's double to the left centerfield gap to cut the margin down to 4-2.
Justin Kunz connected on an RBI double in the fifth to put another GWU run on the board.
Aaron Miller responded for the Bucs in the bottom half of the frame with his third home run of the season. The CSU first baseman connected on the one-out offering from Mosay with a deep drive over the fence in left field for the Bucs' final run.
CSU's defense was on display in the top of the sixth as the Andronica started a pair of plays that resulted in two GWU runners thrown out at the plate. However, two Runnin' Bulldogs scored in the frame as Gage Parham and Fox both crossed the plate to put the margin at 6-3.
The Bucs put runners on base in each of the final four innings with the bases-loaded situation CSU's most serious threat before falling just short to close out the contest.
Charleston Southern and Gardner-Webb continue the weekend series tomorrow afternoon at the CSU Ballpark. First pitch is set for 4 p.m.
CSU is expected to send RHP Kyle Dyson (0-1, 5.52 ERA) to the mound on Friday. Gardner-Webb is expected to start RHP Bradley Hallman (3-2, 2.24 ERA).