CHARLESTON, S.C. - Charleston Southern salvaged a split with visiting College of Charleston on Tuesday afternoon in a battle of local rivals as the Buccaneers bounced back from a tough 2-1 defeat in the first game with a 6-4 victory in the nightcap behind a two-run home run by Jana Matthews.
The Buccaneers move to 6-26 overall on the 2013 season, while the College of Charleston moves to 15-12 overall with the split.
"Well, going through that last inning and overcoming the adversity, it was something this team needed to have," commented head coach Shane Winkler following the win. "To see the opportunity to overcome something like that was big. Between the games we got on the team a little bit for not having enough bite or giving the extra effort in the wins, but it was showcased in that second game at the beginning. Jana (Matthews) hits a changeup out of the park and with Jennifer's (Giles) efforts on the mound, it was big today."
Charleston Southern returns to the road this weekend as the Buccaneers makes their first Big South Conference road trip of the season, traveling to Radford, Va. to take on the Radford Highlanders in a three-game series, starting with a doubleheader on Friday afternoon. Saturday's closing game between CSU and RU will be streamed live via ESPN3.
"We just need to continue to get better in every area," said Winkler as the Bucs prepare for this weekend's trip to Radford. "We've been hit by injuries and have some players playing in positions they're not used to playing in right now, so we'll continue to work on that. This is a big weekend. Both teams are more capable than their records show, and I expect this weekend to be competitive and both teams to be competitive in the conference as the season goes on."
Game One: College of Charleston 2, Charleston Southern 1
Hope Klicker fired on all cylinders for the College of Charleston in the first game of the doubleheader as the sophomore left-hander recorded a season-high 12 strikeouts in the complete game two-hit victory over Charleston Southern.
Stephanie Sbardella paced the Buccaneers to the early lead in the first inning, connecting on a solo home run for Charleston Southern to put the Bucs ahead early, but Klicker (9-5) held the Bucs without a hit over the final five innings to pick up her ninth win of the season on the mound.
Jennifer Giles (2-19) suffered the loss for the Bucs, allowing two runs (one earned) in the complete game effort for CSU. She scattered six hits and recorded four strikeouts, pitching out of bases loaded jams three times in the game as CofC left 13 runners on base in the contest.
The Bucs struck first in the bottom of the first after Giles battled out of a bases-loaded situation in the top of the inning, striking out the final two CofC batters to close out the scoring threat.
Sbardella connected on her fifth home run of the season, drilling the 1-0 offering from Klicker over the left field fence to put the Bucs ahead early. Jana Matthews was also in scoring position in the inning, reaching second on a throwing error by the CofC catcher on strike three and advancing on a wild pitch, but the CSU senior was stranded on the bag as Klicker kept the score 1-0.
The Cougars knotted the score up the top of the second as College of Charleston loaded the bases with none out. Rebecca Mueller led off the inning with a single to right field and Lexi Murdock and Ashton Jarrett drew back-to-back walks, bringing Lizzy Vaughn to the plate. Vaughn fouled out to left field for the first out, but Carly Corthell followed with an RBI single to right, scoring Mueller to even the contest.
The Bucs defense held strong in the inning as Giles retired the final two batters on infield groundout to keep the score tied in the second.
The pitchers took over for the next five innings with neither team able to mount much of a scoring threat as CSU saw Lizzy Olmstead stranded on third in the fourth, while a steal put Vaughn in scoring position for the Cougars in the sixth.
In the top of the seventh, the Cougars broke through with the go-ahead run as Hodgson and Mackenzie Maples reached on walks, while Chandler Frisbie reached on an error to load the bases with none out. A spectacular diving catch on Kristy Giragosian's line drive by Natalie Yonan kept the Cougars away from the plate, but Allison Pedigo drew a full-count two-out walk, scoring Chloe Fletcher to put CofC ahead 2-1.
In the bottom half of the inning, Melanie Stickney drew a walk with one out in the frame to put a CSU runner on base. After Klicker retired Jasmine Conley on strikes to put CofC one out away from the win, Stickney made an aggressive attempt, trying to steal on a ball that bounced away from the Cougars' catcher. The ploy backfired as the throw was on time to retire the final out and end the game in favor of the College of Charleston.
Game Two: Charleston Southern 6, College of Charleston 4
The Buccaneers saw their 10 game losing streak come to an end in the nightcap of the doubleheader against the Cougars as Charleston Southern used a two-run blast by Jana Matthews in the first inning and stellar pitching late by Linzy Rother and Jennifer Giles in closing out the 6-4 victory over the Cougars.
With Charleston Southern clinging to the 6-4 lead late in the sixth inning, Giles came in to pitch following a Rebecca Mueller double to left centerfield. The CSU sophomore right-hander gave up back-to-back singles by Kristy Giragosian and Ashton Jarrett to load the bases. Giles responded with the pressure on, getting a force out at the plate on a grounder to the shortstop, caught a soft line drive back to her for the second out and cleanly fielded a grounder back to the mound for the third out to retire the side.
The Cougars threatened again in the seventh, putting two runners on with one out, but Giles again relied on her defense, getting the force out at third base for the second out, before setting Giragosian on strikes to end the game in picking up her first save of the season.
"It was a big time effort from Jen today, throwing nearly 200 pitches on the mound," commented Winkler on the sophomore right-hander's performance on the day. "A lot of them were high effort pitches, and though she gave up a little too many walks, she hit the spots when she needed to and really battled hard out there today."
Rother (3-7) picked up her team-leading third win of the season from the mound in the game, throwing 5.0 innings and allowed all four runs (three earned) in the win. Rother scattered seven hits in the game, while striking out two.
Stephanie Saylors (6-5) picked up the loss, going 3.1 innings in the start, allowing all six CSU runs (five earned), while striking out one. Valerie Cassell pitched 2.2 innings of one-hit relief to close out the game for the Cougars.
Charleston Southern plated four in the bottom of the first inning as the Buccaneers combined to hit for the cycle in their first five batters. Marci Christian led off the inning with a single up the middle and Matthews followed two batters later with her fourth home run of the season to put CSU ahead early. Rother followed Matthews' blast with a double down the left field line and Hayes Holdsworth drove her in with a triple down the left field line. A squeeze bunt by Melanie Stickney scored Holdsworth to give the Bucs the early lead.
The Cougars rallied in the top of the second, plating two runs to halve the CSU lead. Mueller drove in the first run with a single to right field, scoring Mackenzie Maples with none out in the inning. Giragosian followed with a second RBI single to right, but during the plate Mueller was caught in a rundown, getting tagged out in the process and effectively ending the Cougars run scoring efforts in the inning.
The Bucs added two more runs in the third as Rother poked a 3-2 outside pitch over the second baseman's head, scoring Stephanie Sbardella and Matthews on the play to put the Bucs ahead, 6-2.
The Cougars plated runs in both the fourth and fifth innings as Allison Pedigo scored on a fielding error in the fourth inning, while Kelsey Hodgson led off the fifth with a solo home run to right field, putting the College of Charleston back within scoring distance.
However, the late inning combined efforts by the CSU defense and pitching staff closed out the Bucs' sixth win of the season.