CHARLESTON, S.C. - Casey Herring pitched a two-hitter, recording 10 strikeouts as George Mason defeated Charleston Southern 2-1 on Friday afternoon at Buccaneer Field in CSU's home opener.
The Patriots improve to 1-0 with the win, while Charleston Southern falls to 0-1 to open the 2013 season.
Charleston Southern pushed across a run in the bottom of the first inning as Ari Tedesco scored on a passed ball, but the Lady Bucs could only muster one hit the remainder of the game to open up the Charleston Southern Tournament.
The tournament features Charleston Southern, George Mason and UNC Greensboro, with Greensboro and Mason opening play on Saturday morning on Buccaneer Field, with first pitch set for 10 a.m.
Jennifer Giles (0-1) suffered the loss for the Lady Bucs, going the distance for head coach Shane Winkler in the season opener, allowing only four hits and two earned runs, while striking out five in the game.
Herring (1-0) scattered two hits in the contest, striking out 10 CSU batters, while walking two in pitching a complete game for the Patriots in their season opener.
Giles set Mason down in order in the top of the first inning, striking out Tiffany Webb and Megan Blank and CSU pushed a run across in the bottom of the inning, loading the bases against Herring.
Tedesco drew a leadoff walk and moved to second on a single up the middle by Trea Steele. Following a pop-up to the pitcher, Stephanie Sbardella was hit by a pitch, loading the bases with one out. With the count 1-2 against Jana Matthews, Herring's pitch eluded catcher Angela Maioran and skipped to the backstop, allowing Tedesco to score for the first run of the game. Herring recovered to set Matthews down on strikes and retired the next batter on a groundout to end the CSU threat, but Charleston Southern held the 1-0 lead after the first inning.
The Patriots placed runners on base in the top of the second and the third as Samantha Barney recorded a one-out double in the right centerfield gap in the second and Webb drew a two-out walk in the third, but Giles held George Mason at bay to keep the lead intact through three innings.
Mason threated to even the score in the top of the fourth, following a 1-2-3 inning by CSU as Lauren McColgan reached on a throwing error to open the frame. Blank followed with a sacrifice bunt to push her into scoring possession. Brooke Blankenship was hit on the 2-1 offering by Giles to give the Patriots two runners on with one out, but a fielder's choice hit back to the pitcher was scooped up by Giles, who alertly threw it to third base for the second out.
A failed pickoff attempt sailed down the right field line to put runners on the corners with two outs in the inning, but Giles froze Casey Price for a called strike three to end the threat with CSU holding on to the 1-0 lead.
George Mason broke through in the top of the fifth as Maioran led off with a shallow single down the left field line. With Julia Czarnecki in to pinch run, Sarah Solano dropped down a sacrifice bunt, moving the tying run into scoring possession. Giles retired O'Conner on strikes, but Webb was hit by a pitch and McColgan drew walks to load the bases. Blank worked a 2-2 count before rifling a single up the middle, scoring Czarnecki and Webb, but CSU escaped the inning as Blank was thrown out trying to take second base on the play, limiting the damage to two runs.
CSU threatened in both the fifth and sixth innings, placing runners in scoring position as Melanie Stickney led off the fifth with a single through the left side of the infield and moved to second on Linzy Rother's walk, while Marci Christian reached second on a two-base error by the GMU second baseman in the bottom of the sixth, but both times the runners were stranded to keep the Patriots' lead intact.
Giles escaped bases loaded jams in both the sixth and seventh innings, forcing matching groundouts to Steele at second base to give CSU a chance to send the game into extra innings in their final at-bat, but Herring retired the side in order in the seventh to close out her first win of the season.
Charleston Southern continues their opening tournament on Buccaneer Field tomorrow afternoon as the Lady Bucs take on George Mason for the second time of the weekend. First pitch between the Buccaneers and the Patriots is scheduled for noon.