CHARLESTON, S.C. - Russell Williams' solo home run in the top of the seventh inning proved to be the difference in Thursday night's opener at the CSU Ballpark as Charleston Southern fell to visiting Air Force, 7-6.
The Buccaneers (21-28) rallied back from a 6-2 deficit with four runs in the bottom of the sixth inning with Aaron Miller connecting on his eighth home run of the season and Alex Andronica adding a two-run double to tie the game up. Williams answered for the Falcons (26-25) with a one-out solo shot over the right field fence to help Air Force retake the lead for good as CSU was unable to mount a comeback over the final two innings.
SCHEDULE UPDATE: Saturday's series finale between Charleston Southern and Air Force has been moved up to a 1 p.m. first pitch. Senior Day festivities on the field for 2017 seniors Nate Blanchard, Brandon Gragilla, and Kyle Dyson will begin at 12:30 p.m.
Ryan Stoudemire (3-2) suffered the loss in relief for the Bucs allowing the Williams home run in 1.2 innings while striking out three. Tyler Weekley went the first 5.1 innings, striking out five while allowing six runs, while Cody Maw and Wil Hartsell went the final two innings in scoreless relief.
Ryan Holloway (3-1) went the final 3.1 innings in relief for the Falcons with the left-handed reliever allowing one hit while striking out three in the win. Jacob DeVries went the first 5.2 innings allowing seven hits and six runs (five earned).
Air Force took the early lead in the top of the third inning as Tyler Jones singled in Adam Groesbeck. The Falcons added to their lead on Jones' two-run home run to the left of the scoreboard, bringing home Drew Wiss to give AFA the 3-0 advantage at the midway point in the game.
Delongchamps responded for the Bucs in the bottom of the frame as the Bucs connected on three consecutive singles with two outs. Vesnesky started the stretch with a base hit down the right field line and advanced to third on Andronica's single to right. Andronica took second on the play as the shortstop misplayed the relay into the infield to put two in scoring position. Delongchamps followed with a drive down the left field line bringing both runs home to cut the AFA lead down to 3-2.
Daniel Jones connected on a two-run home run in the top of the sixth to extend the AFA lead back to 5-2 and Rob Dau scored on a bases-loaded wild pitch to give the Falcons the 6-2 lead heading into the CSU at-bat.
Aaron Miller connected on a one-out home run scoring Chris Singleton for his team-leading eighth blast of the season. The ball cleared the scoreboard in left center to halve the Air Force lead. Four batters later, Andronica brought home Brandon Gragilla and Vesnesky with a double down the left field line to even the score at 6-6.
Williams swung the advantage back to AFA in the top of the seventh with a solo shot to right field.
The Bucs put two runners on base the rest of the way with Blanchard reaching on a base hit to lead off the seventh and Andronica drawing a walk in the ninth, but CSU was unable to bring either around against Holloway in falling in the series opener.
The Bucs and Falcons continue the series tomorrow night at the Ballpark. First pitch is set for 6 p.m. on the Big South Network. It's Military Day at the field with service members receiving a free family 4-pack of tickets with a Military ID.