CHARLESTON, S.C. - Despite home runs by both Marci Christian and Jana Matthews, Charleston Southern was swept on the final day of the 2013 Buccaneer Invitational, falling to Valparaiso, 6-5, in the early afternoon, while dropping to Tennesee, 10-3, in the nightcap.
Christian homered in both games, driving a three-run blast in the first inning against Valparaiso and followed up with a three-run inside the park home run against Tennessee, while Matthews connected on her 27th career home run, driving the ball over the fence in left centerfield against Valparaiso to tie former teammate Megan Lombard for the most home runs in CSU program history. The home run also tied Matthews with Lombard for the career RBI mark, with 113 runs batted in during her four year career.
Jennifer Giles (1-9) suffered the losses in both contests as Charleston Southern falls to 4-11 in the 2013 season.
The Buccaneers return to the road for their final tournament, flying out west to California for a game against Cal State Fullerton on March 8th, before opening the Long Beach State Mayfair Invitational against UC Santa Barbara on the 9th. CSU will take on Long Beach State, Idaho State, UCLA and Bethune-Cookman, along with UC Santa Barbara over the three day tournament.
Valparaiso 6, Charleston Southern 5 (Box Score)
A four run sixth inning sparked by a trio of Charleston Southern miscues on a single play helped Valparaiso squeak past the Buccaneers in the first game on the final day of the Buccaneer Invitational.
With runners on second and third following a Tarah McShane sacrifice fly, Jessie Marinec hit a grounder to second base. CSU attempted to make the play at the plate, but the ball skipped past the catcher for the first error. In the ensuing scramble, Marinec attempted to take second base and the throw sailed into centerfield, going through the Bucs' outfield allowing all three runners to score on the play to give the Crusaders a lead they would not give up in the win.
Marci Christian and Jana Matthews hit back-to-back home runs in the bottom of the first to give CSU an early lead. Christian connected on a three-run blast to left centerfield, driving in Trea Steele and Stephanie Sbardella. Matthews followed with her second home run of the season and 27th of her career, tying her with former teammate Megan Lombard for the CSU all-time home runs record with a shot over the fence in left centerfield.
Giles suffered the loss on the mound for the Buccaneers, going the distance in allowing six runs (three earned) with six hits, while striking out three. Taylor Weissenhofer (4-2) picked up the win, throwing six no-hit innings in relief of starter Ashlyn Michalak in the victory.
Valpo plated the first run of the game in the top of the first as Joylyn Ichiyama connected on a two-out double down the left field line, past a diving Sbardella. Brittany Duncan drew a walk to extend the inning, before Janelle Bouchard brought in Ichiyama on a shallow single up the middle to give the Crusaders the early lead.
Christian put the Buccaneers ahead in the bottom half of the inning, following a walk issued to Sbardella with her second home run of the season, connecting on a 2-1 pitch to drive it over the fence in left centerfield, scoring Steele, who reached on an error to lead off the inning, and Sbardella for the 3-1 advantage. Matthews followed five pitches later with a drive of her own, drilling the ball into the win before it settled over the fence to put the Bucs ahead 4-1.
The Crusaders took one back in the fourth inning as McShane drove a two-out double to the fence in right centerfield. A throwing error on Marinec's infield single brought McShane across the plate to halve the Bucs lead.
Valparaiso took the lead in the sixth inning, scoring the first run on a McShane sacrifice fly, scoring Hayley Bridwell, before Marinec started the scramble for the ball in the next at-bat, giving the Crusaders the 6-4 lead.
Weissenhofer worked her way out of trouble in the bottom of the fourth and sixth innings, keeping the Buccaneers off the scoreboard, but CSU rallied in the bottom of the seventh as Sbardella reached on a dropped fly ball by the Valpo left fielder, advancing to second on the play. A wild pitch moved the Fairfax Station, Va. native over to third, where Christian brought her home with a sacrifice fly to right field.
The Valpo reliever closed out the game though, ending the CSU comeback attempt by retiring the next two batters in order to close out the game.
Tennessee 10, Charleston Southern 3 (Box Score)
The Lady Vols plated five runs in the top of the first and added two runs in the second and sixth innings to offset a three-run inside the park home run by Marci Christian in closing out the final game of the 2013 Buccaneer Invitational with the 10-3 victory.
Christian connected on her second home run of the day and third of the second in the bottom of the first inning, driving the ball to the fence in centerfield. Tory Lewis went back to make the play, but hit the fence hard, allowing the ball to roll away from her as Trea Steele, Stephanie Sbardella and Christian raced around the bases for CSU's runs in the game.
Giles went the distance for the second time in the day in picking up the loss for Charleston Southern. An early injury took UT freshman Erin Gabriel out of the game and Ellen Renfroe (7-1) closed out the contest, throwing 6.2 innings of one-hit relief, allowing only Christian's home run in picking up her second win of the weekend.
Tennesee sent all nine batters to the plate in the top of the first inning with Melissa Brown doing most of the damage with a two-RBI double to right centerfield, driving in Melissa Davin and Cheyanne Tarango as the Volunteers took the early 5-0 lead. Tarango and Hannah Akamine both were hit by pitches with the bases loaded, scoring runs, while Davin brought in Lauren Gibson on a fielder's choice in the frame.
Charleston Southern struck back in the bottom half of the inning as Steele led off the frame with a sharp single through the left side of the infield. Sbardella followed two batters later with a line drive off the pitching hand of UT starter Gabriel, reaching first on the single. Gabriel was forced to come out of the game due to the injury and Christian greeted reliever Renfroe with a drive to the fence in centerfield with all three CSU players scoring on the rare inside the park home run to cut the lead down to 5-3.
Tennessee battled back with two runs in the second inning as Madison Shipman drove a ball into the stiff wind and off the fence in left centerfield for a double, scoring Gibson and Kat Dotson on the play to put UT up 7-3.
The Lady Vols pushed across another run in the fifth inning as Gibson was hit by a pitch with the bases loaded, allowing Davin to score from third.
The final runs of the game came in the sixth inning as Tarango opened the inning with a solo home run to centerfield. Three batters later Brown singled in Hannah Trainer with a line drive down the left field line to expand the UT lead to 10-3.
Charleston Southern was quiet on the base paths over the final four innings, with Jana Matthews reaching on an error in the fourth inning, while Christian drew a full-count walk in the sixth as the Buccaneers were unable to mount a comeback in the loss.