HIGH POINT, N.C. - Charleston Southern's ninth-inning rally fell short as High Point's pitching staff held the Bucs at bay in Friday night's opener at Williard Field with the Panthers taking the series opening 5-1 victory.
The Bucs (21-21, 9-10) mounted a late two-out rally against High Point reliever Matt Hodges (S, 5) as Brandon Gragilla started the comeback attempt with a single to centerfield. Mike Sconzo extended his season-high 14 game on-base streak with a two-out walk to put runners on first and second.
Kyle Vesnesky came through with his second double of the game, driving the ball to right centerfield and driving in Gragilla to put the tying run in the on-deck circle. However, Hodges rallied back to set Cole German on strikes to secure the Panthers (23-18, 10-9) win on Friday night.
Tyler Weekley (3-3) suffered the loss on the mound for CSU after going 2.1 innings and allowing four hits and four runs while striking out one. Daniel Johnson went 3.2 shutout innings in relief while Taylor Cox and Eddie Hiott closed out the contest for the Bucs.
Vesnesky led the Bucs' offense on the day with his pair of doubles on the afternoon. Jason Miller (1-for-4) and Gragilla (1-for-3) also reached base twice in the game.
Andrew Gottfried (3-2) went the first 6.0 innings in recording the win for the Panthers. Gottfried allowed two hits and walked two while striking out seven in the win. Hodges went the final three innings to pick up his fifth save of the season.
Tim Mansfield led the Panthers' offense with a 3-for-4 day at the plate, including a two-run single in the bottom of the third to put High Point on the board. Josh Greene added a two-run single, while Hunter Lee connected on a solo home run to cap the Panthers' scoring.
High Point took the early 4-0 lead after three innings' play as Mansfield and Greene each connected on two-RBI singles in the frame. Mansfield's base hit through the right side brought home Conner Dunbar and Jordan Serget for the first two runs. Greene followed two batters later driving home Mansfield and Blake Schunk with a single to right field to double the HPU lead.
Gottfried held the CSU lineup to one hit through the first five innings with Vesnesky's leadoff double in the top of the third the lone tally on the board. Jason Miller connected on the Bucs' second hit of the game with a two-out single up the middle in the sixth.
The Panthers added to their lead with two outs in the eighth as Lee connected on a solo home run to right field off of Hiott.
The Bucs rallied back in the ninth, but the attempt fell just short as Hodges pitched around the rally to close out the contest.
Charleston Southern and High Point continue the series tomorrow afternoon at Williard Stadium. First pitch is set for 6 p.m.
RHP Nik Constantakos (3-2, 4.24 ERA) is projected to start for the Bucs on Saturday night. High Point is expected to start RHP Drew Daczkowski (4-3, 3.27 ERA).