Charleston Southern closes out regular season at the Ballpark against Air Force

Charleston Southern closes out regular season at the Ballpark against Air Force

CHARLESTON, S.C. - Charleston Southern closes out the 2017 regular season this weekend as the Buccaneers welcome the Air Force Academy to the CSU Ballpark for a three-game series starting on Thursday night. First pitch in the opening game is set for 6 p.m. The series will continue on Friday night with a 6 p.m. first pitch, while Saturday's Senior Day finale is slated to begin at 2 p.m.

All three games will be streamed live via the Big South Network with Kevin O'Rourke and John Peters calling the action. Live Stats will also be provided with the links on Fans will also be able to follow the games on Twitter following the CSU Game Day Account: @CSUGameDay

CSU Game Notes against Air Force

Probable Starters
Thursday: RHP Tyler Weekley (3-4, 4.82 ERA) vs. LHP Jacob DeVries (5-3, 7.52 ERA)
Friday: RHP Nik Constantakos (3-4, 5.12 ERA) vs. LHP Ethan Nichols (5-3, 7.54 ERA)
Saturday: RHP Kyle Dyson (1-3, 5.33 ERA) vs. RHP Matt Hargreaves (3-5, 7.45 ERA)

Leading Off

  • Charleston Southern closed out Big South Conference play this past weekend as the Buccaneers fell in a three-game series against Presbyterian at the CSU Ballpark
  • The Bucs close out the 2017 season this weekend at home against the Air Force with Senior Day recognizing Nate Blanchard, Brandon Gragilla, and Kyle Dyson prior to Saturday's first pitch
  • Interim head coach Adam Ward was named the new permanent head baseball coach of the Buccaneers this past Thursday after leading CSU to a strong start that included receiving votes in two different major national polls
  • Aaron Miller tied Nate Blanchard for the team home run lead heading into the final week of the season as the freshman first baseman connected on a pair of home runs this past weekend against the Blue Hose.
  • College of Charleston's bats took control early and a late Charleston Southern rally fell short on Tuesday night as the Buccaneers fell on the road at the Patriots Point Athletic Complex, 9-5.
  • The Buccaneers will recognize seniors Nate Blanchard, Kyle Dyson, and Brandon Gragilla prior to Saturday's regular season finale.
  • CSU last took on the Air Force back in the 2009 season as the Buccaneers hosted the Falcons at the CSU Ballpark on February 28-29. The Bucs and Falcons split the series with AFA taking the opening game, while CSU rallied to take game two. The third game was rained out.

About the Falcons
Air Force enters the weekend series with a 25-25 overall record as the Falcons make the trip to Charleston and the CSU Ballpark. Air Force has posted a 12-17 record in Mountain West play in the 2017 season. The Falcons are 12-10 at home at Falcon Field this season, but have struggled away from USAFA with a 9-14 record on the road. CSU is the only Big South team on AFA's schedule this season. 

Last Out for AFA
Air Force enters the weekend series having dropped three straight home games to visiting San Diego State and Northern Colorado. The Falcons took the opening game against SDSU, 9-1, before falling to the Aztecs 18-11 and 17-5 over the final two games. The Falcons also fell in a midweek contest this past Tuesday against Northern Colorado, 13-11.

Who to Watch For
Adam Groesbeck leads the AFA offense with a .411 batting average to go with a team-high 85 hits, three triples, and nine stolen bases. Tyler Jones is the team's power leader with 13 home runs and 55 RBI, while Nic Ready has connected for 11 home runs in the 2017 season. The Falcons have eight players hitting over .300 on the season with AFA connecting at a .345 clip as a team this season. The Falcons' pitching staff has struggled on the season with AFA posting a 7.76 ERA on the season. 

Last Time These Teams Met
AFA last made the trip to Charleston in the 2009 season as the Falcons took on the Bucs from February 27-March 1. The teams split the first two games of the series, while the finale was postponed. Air Force took the opener, 2-0, while CSU responded with a 3-1 win in the second game of the series. 

Bucs Streaking On-Base
Chris Singleton is the Bucs' active on-base streak leader heading into the weekend as the junior centerfielder has reached base in 12 straight games. It's the longest on-base streak in his career. He took over the longest active streak when Mike Sconzo's 14-game streak came to an end against High Point. Overall, six different players have recorded eight double-digit on-base streaks of the season. 

Active Hitting Streak
Chris Singleton also has the Bucs' longest current hitting streak with the junior centerfielder connecting safely in each of the last seven games. His streak is the sixth-longest of the 2017 season and his second-longest of the season having connected safely in eight consecutive games from April 4-14. Jason Miller boasts the Bucs' longest hitting streak of the season at nine games happening earlier this season. 

Charleston Southern's pitching staff has been among the nation's best at setting down the opposition in the 2017 season. The Bucs have posted 21 double-digit strikeout games as a pitching staff this season and rank 14th nationally with 9.3 strikeouts per nine innings on the season. CSU recorded six straight games with double-digit strikeouts from April 1 – 9 against Campbell (twice), The Citadel, and UNC Asheville (three times). CSU also set a season-high with 17 strikeouts on April 25 against Wofford where the Bucs struck out the side three times against the Terriers in the win.

They're In Control
CSU's pitching staff has also kept opponents off the base paths in the 2017 season as the Bucs rank 1414 overall in the country and lead the Big South with a 2.97 strikeout-to-walk ratio on the year. Two Bucs rank in the top 100 in the NCAA on the season in the category with Cody Maw (6.00, 27th) and Nik Constantakos (4.47, 82nd) both sitting among the national leaders in the category. 

Can't Contain Him
Chris Singleton continues to lead the Bucs and sits among the nation's leaders in stolen bases on the season. The fleet-footed junior centerfielder has recorded 18 steals on the year in 19 attempts and has recorded nearly half of CSU's 43 steals on the year. Singleton enters the weekend 40th in the NCAA in stolen bases and 48th in stolen bases per game on the season. 

Rarely has Mike Sconzo struggled to connect this season against opposing pitching as the junior catcher has been among the nation's toughest to strikeout in the 2017 season. Sconzo averages one strikeout per every 12.1 at-bats on the season to sit 53rd overall in the country in the category on the season. He has led the Big South in the category for multiple weeks and is one of only two Big South players ranked in the category in the NCAA this season with Gardner-Webb's Colin Thacker (9.8, 129th). 

Hit Master
Jason Miller continues to lead the conference in hits in conference-only games heading into the weekend as the redshirt sophomore paces the league with 37 hits in 24 Big South games. Miller leads the Bucs on the year with 18 multi-hit games on the season and is fourth overall on the season with 63 hits on the year. 

Doubling Up
Kyle Vesnesky has shown consistent gaps power in conference competition this season as the junior shortstop leads the Big South with nine doubles in conference play. Vesnesky is tied with High Point's Blake Schunk (9) for the lead in conference play with a pair of doubles against the Panthers.

Can't Score, Can't Hit This Guy
Junior reliever Daniel Johnson continues to pace the CSU bullpen and pitching staff in Big South competition in the 2017 season. The left-handed reliever has shined from the bullpen this season and is third the Big South with a 1.76 ERA in conference competition, as well as sitting third overall in opponent batting average at .216. Johnson is also tied for seventh overall in strikeouts on the season in conference play with 46 in 30.2 innings pitched.

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