Weekend series on slate with Radford as Bucs return home to the CSU Ballpark

Weekend series on slate with Radford as Bucs return home to the CSU Ballpark

CHARLESTON, S.C. - Charleston Southern returns home to the CSU Ballpark for the Buccaneers' final home series before final exams as CSU welcomes Radford into town for a three-games series. First pitch in Friday night's opener is set for 6 p.m. Saturday's start is set for 4 p.m., while Sunday's series finale is slated for a 2 p.m. first pitch.

Live stats will be available with the links active on the CSU baseball schedule page. Live updates will also be provided on Twitter: @CSUGameDay

Charleston Southern Baseball Game Notes vs. Radford*

Probable Pitching Matchup
Friday:­ RHP Nik Constantakos (3-2, 4.24 ERA) vs. LHP Zack Ridgely (4-5, 2.65 ERA)
Saturday: RHP Tyler Weekley (3-2, 3.77 ERA) vs. RHP Danny Hrbek (2-3, 5.68 ERA)
Sunday: TBD vs. TBD

Leading Off

  • Charleston Southern enters the contest on a three-game skid falling in the series finale to Gardner-Webb this past weekend and dropping midweek decisions at The Citadel and USC Upstate. The Buc shave dropped seven of their past eight since winning the first two games of the series at UNC Asheville.
  • The Buccaneers' offense has gained traction over the last month as CSU now leads the Big South Conference with a .275 team batting average in the 2017 season. CSU has hit .313 as a team in the month of April with six different players posting batting averages above .300 including Aaron Miller's team-leading .447 average.
  • Aaron Miller has earned Big South Conference Freshman of the Week honors in each of the past two weeks and has paced the Bucs over the last month with 21 hits, three doubles, four home runs, and 14 RBI. He added a season-high eight RBI with two home runs in the Bucs' 19-3 win over UNC Asheville two weeks ago.
  • Daniel Johnson has proved nigh unhittable in the month of April. The junior left-hander earned Big South Pitcher of the Week honors two weeks ago and has posted a 2.35 ERA with a 29:2 strikeout-to-walk ratio over the last 15.1 innings.
  • The Bucs have posted two of their highest run totals of the 2017 season on the past two Saturday with CSU topping UNC Asheville, 19-3, two weeks ago in Asheville, N.C. Last weekend at home, the Bucs scored 12 runs in their final two at-bats to top Gardner-Webb 18-2 in the middle game of the series.
  • Along with leading the Big South in batting average, Charleston Southern also leads the conference from the mound. The CSU pitching staff tops the Big South in both strikeouts (341) and strikeouts looking (101), on the season.

About the Highlanders
Radford enters the weekend with a 16-20 overall record on the season and 6-6 mark in Big South Conference play. The Highlanders have found more success at home with an 8-7 record in the friendly confines of the Radford Baseball Stadium, compared to a 7-12 record on the road. Radford dropped a midweek contest at home against Appalachian State on Tuesday, but are coming off of a road sweep at Campbell in conference play last weekend.

Last Out for Radford
Radford was unable to continue its winning streak after dropped the season series to Appalachian State on Tuesday. The Highlanders fell short, 7-5, despite a late ninth-inning comeback. The Highlanders rallied back from a 7-3 deficit with two outs in the frame, but a groundout with runners at the corners ended the attempt in favor of the visiting Mountaineers.

Who to Watch For
Kyle Butler leads the Radford batting efforts on the season with a .350 batting average with 43 hits, 29 runs, and nine doubles on the season. Jonathan Gonzalez has provided the power for the RU lineup with seven home runs and a team-high 26 RBI to go with a .299 batting average. Ridgely leads the RU pitching staff on the season with a 48:9 strikeout-to-walk ratio, while Hrbek has posted the only complete game and shutout on the year for the Highlanders.

Last Time These Teams Met
It's been two years since the Bucs and the Highlanders have faced off against each other. CSU made the trip to Radford, Va. in the 2015 season. The Bucs dropped all three decisions to the host Highlanders, falling 7-2 in the opener, and 6-2 in the series finale. The middle contest went 11 innings before Hrbek connected on a one-out walk-off single to secure the 5-4 win.

Midweek comeback falls short as Bucs drop Tuesday contest at The Citadel
Charleston Southern was unable to overcome an early surge by The Citadel and the Bucs' late-inning rally fell short on Tuesday night at Riley Park as CSU fell to the Bulldogs, 8-5. The Bucs plated two runs in the top of the first to take the early lead. The Citadel responded with three runs in each of their first two at-bats with a two-run home run by Ben Peden providing early excitement to pace the Bulldogs past the Bucs for the second time in the 2017 season.

Strong pitching guides USC Upstate past Charleston Southern in midweek contest
A strong pitching performance by the USC Upstate pitching staff helped the host Spartans top Charleston Southern on Wednesday night in Harley Park, 5-1. The Bucs dropped the season series with the Spartans that spanned games at the CSU Ballpark, the Lexington County Baseball Stadium, and finally Harley Park on Wednesday night. CSU took the opening contest against the Spartans, 4-3, on March 1. USC Upstate responded with wins in each of the final two contests to take the season series.

Miller takes Freshman of the Week honors for Second Consecutive Week
Miller continues to have the hot bat for the CSU offense as the reigning Big South Freshman of the Week delivered another scorching performance from the plate. Miller recorded multi-hit efforts in all five games this past week including three hits in the opener against Gardner-Webb and a 4-for-5 day in the series finale against the Runnin' Bulldogs. For the week, Miller hit a team-high .591 on the week with 13 hits in 22 at-bats. He recorded a team-high .909 slugging percentage and a .560 on-base percentage to pace CSU. He homered in both the first and third games of the weekend series and drove in five RBI and scored five runs on the week.

Big South Leaders
Charleston Southern's bats coming to life over the past two weeks have put the Bucs atop the Big South batting standings on the season. The Bucs are hitting .275 as a team this season through 37 games and hold a six-point advantage over Liberty (.269) and Gardner-Webb (.268). CSU has been paced by strong efforts at the plate by Jason Miller (.338), Aaron Miller (.322), Brandon Gragilla (.310), and Mike Sconzo (.296).

Can't Touch This
The Charleston Southern pitching staff has also showcased the power arms on the staff as the Bucs sit second overall in total strikeouts (341) and lead the Big South in strikeouts looking (101) on the season. Nik Constantakos leads the Bucs with 51 strikeouts on the season, while the duo of Cody Maw (21) and Constantakos (20) lead the conference in strikeouts looking on the year.

Scoring Threats
Thanks to CSU's offensive recent offensive explosion, Chris Singleton and Nate Blanchard have entered the top 10 in the Big South Conference on the season in runs scored. The CSU duo is currently tied for fourth in the Big South standings with 31 runs scored on the year.

Doubling Up
Brandon Gragilla's recent performance has put the senior designated hitter among the conference leaders in doubles on the season. Gragilla has connected on four doubles in the past seven games to sit second in the conference standings with 13 doubles on the year. Gragilla trails only Campbell's Matthew Barefoot (15) in the category.

He Doesn't Strike Out
Mike Sconzo is the toughest man to strike out in the Big South Conference in the 2017 season as the junior catcher averages striking out once every 12.9 at-bats. He has been retired on strikes only 11 times in 142 at-bats and has posted a .296 batting average in 36 games on the season.

Big South Conference K-Men
Charleston Southern leads the conference in strikeouts by a wide margin in the 2017 season as the Buccaneers have retired 163 strikeouts on the year. Longwood (118) and High Point (114) are second and third respectively on the season in team strikeouts. Daniel Johnson (37) leads the Big South in strikeouts in conference play, while Nik Constantakos (30, 4th) and Kyle Dyson (24, 10th) are both in the top 10 in the category.

Control Freaks
Charleston Southern's pitching staff's control is among the best in the NCAA in the 2017 season as the Bucs sit 27th nationally in strikeout-to-walk ratio on the season. Only three Bucs' pitchers have walked more than 10 batters on the season, while 12 different pitchers have recorded double-digit strikeouts on the year. Nik Constantakos has gone three consecutive starts without surrendering a walk, while Tyler Weekley has not given up a walk in each of his past two appearances to pace the Bucs heading into the weekend.

Can't Keep Them Off the Bases
Aaron Miller became the sixth CSU player to record a double-digit on-base streak this season. The CSU freshman first baseman enters the weekend on a seven-game hitting streak and an 11-game on-base streak, both tops on the team at the moment. Mike Sconzo is vying to become the first Buccaneer to piece together a second double-digit on-base streak this season and enters the weekend reaching base in his past nine games.

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