CHARLESTON, S.C. – Ryan Rizk picked an ideal time for his first career home run. Charleston Southern's freshman shortstop clubbed a walk-off homer in his lone at-bat of the day to lift the Bucs over Winthrop, 4-3, in 13 innings Saturday at CSU Ballpark.
Rizk, who entered as a defensive replacement in the 12th, sent a towering drive over the left field fence on the first pitch he saw to help CSU (14-31, 5-15 Big South) even the series and set up a rubber game tomorrow.
Winthrop (21-24, 13-7 Big South) held three separate one-run leads but stranded 16 runners and could not solve the Bucs' bullpen. Seniors Daniel Johnson, Cody Smith and Taylor Cox teamed with Seth Owens to toss nine innings of one-run ball. Owens (1-1) struck out two in a scoreless 13th to record the win. Arnone Riley (2-2) allowed Rizk's home run and took the loss.
Johnson did the bulk of the work for CSU's 'pen, yielding one run over five frames while punching out three. Tyler Weekley turned in a solid start prior to giving way to Johnson, permitting two runs over four innings while striking out five.
The Eagles used the long ball early, receiving solo shots from Mitch Spires in the first and Tyler Halstead in the second. CSU scratched out runs of its own in the first and third, though, to keep pace.
Halstead came through again in the fifth to put Winthrop back in front, capping a long at-bat with a two-out RBI single on a 3-2 pitch. The lead was short-lived, as Josh Litchfield lined an RBI single up the middle to tie the game at 3-3 in the bottom of the fifth. The score would stay there until Rizk's heroics.
News & Notes
- The game was CSU's longest of the season and just its second extra-inning contest. The Bucs topped Savannah State, 7-5, in 12 innings on February 20.
- Litchfield and Josh Peters each registered two-hit days for CSU. Peters scored two runs, including the tying run in the third courtesy of solid base running on a Litchfield groundout.
- Winthrop starter Zach Peek and reliever Dalton Whitaker kept the Bucs under wraps for much of the day. Peek allowed three runs in seven innings. Whitaker was even better, giving up just three hits and a walk in 4.1 shutout frames.
CSU and Winthrop play the rubber game of the series Sunday at 2 p.m.