HIGH POINT, N.C. - Charleston Southern was unable to hold off a late High Point rally as the Buccaneers fell in the series finale to the host Panthers on Sunday afternoon at Williard Stadium, 4-2.
The Bucs (21-23, 9-12) held the 2-1 lead through five innings thanks to alert base running by Brandon Gragilla as the senior designated hitter scored on a wild pitch to retake the advantage. However, High Point (25-18, 12-9) rallied behind a pair of run-scoring singles by Tim Mansfield in the sixth and seventh innings as the Panthers completed the weekend sweep against the Bucs.
Kyle Dyson (1-3) suffered the loss on the mound for the Bucs after going the first 5.2 innings. The senior right-hander scattered eight hits and three runs (two earned), while striking out one in the start. The CSU bullpen of Daniel Johnson, Cody Maw, and Cody Smith kept the Bucs in contention over the final 2.1 innings.
Rion Murrah (3-0) picked up his third win of the 2017 season with an extended relief appearance allowing one hit while striking out three in the contest. Grey Lyttle (S, 1) picked up his first save of the season going the final 0.2 innings' in relief.
The Bucs jumped on the board early in the top of the first following a Brandon Gragilla RBI single. Jason Miller started the two-out rally with a double to left centerfield off of HPU starter Trevor Holloway. Gragilla followed with base hit to centerfield allowing Miller to score and give the Bucs the early 1-0 lead.
CSU put two on in the top of the second and loaded the bases in the fourth attempting to add to their lead, but both times the HPU pitching staff was able to shut down the Bucs and keep the margin at 1-0.
High Point evened the score in the bottom of the fourth following a double and strong base-running by Mansfield. Mansfield led off the frame with a double to left field. He stole third and came around to score on an errant throw to even the score.
Another two-out rally put the Bucs back in the lead in the fifth. Gragilla was hit by a pitch to put a runner on with two outs in the frame. Singleton followed with a double to right center putting both runners in scoring position. A wild pitch allowed both runners to advance one base with Gragilla touching home to give CSU the 2-1 lead.
The Panthers rallied back with two runs in the bottom of the sixth to take their first lead of the game. Austen Zente and Mansfield connected on back-to-back singles with Zente scoring on an errant throw by Singleton to even the score. Two batters later, Josh Greene connected on an RBI single through the right side scoring Mansfield to give the Panthers the 3-2 lead.
High Point added to their advantage in the seventh with Mansfield driving in Conner Dunbar with a two-out single through the right side to double the Panthers' lead.
Mike Sconzo connected on a two-out single in the eight, while Ryan Stoudemire and Nate Blanchard drew back-to-back walks in the ninth to give CSU a pair of chances in the late innings. However, Lyttle closed out the ballgame to keep the Panthers' lead intact and secure the HPU win.
Sconzo led the Bucs' efforts at the plate with a 2-for-4 performance in the game, while Alex Andronica drew a pair of walks in his three plate appearances.
Charleston Southern returns to the CSU Ballpark next weekend as the Bucs open a three-game series on Friday night against Presbyterian on ESPN3. First pitch between CSU and the Blue Hose is set for 7 p.m.