COLUMBIA, S.C. - Cheyenne Gandara connected on two-run home runs in both ends of the doubleheader on the opening day of the Carolina Classic as the Buccaneers fell to No. 24 South Alabama, 3-2, in the early game, and 10-3 in the nightcap against tournament host South Carolina.
The home runs, Gandara's sixth and seventh of the 2015 season, tie her with teammate Marci Christian for the CSU lead and Big South lead over the first four weekends of the season.
Amanda Matsumoto and Gandara had two hits apiece on the day to pace the Bucs offense as CSU struggled from the plate with seven hits spanning both games against the Jaguars and Gamecocks.
Charleston Southern is back in action tomorrow afternoon to close out the Carolina Classic taking on Marshall at 12:30 p.m. and Tennessee State at 5:30 p.m. at Beckham Field on the campus of South Carolina.
Game One: No. 24/24 South Alabama 3, Charleston Southern 2
Chloe Rathburn connected on a walk-off double to centerfield in the bottom of the seventh for No. 24 South Alabama as the Buccaneers fell in the first game of the day to the Jaguars, 3-2.
Cheyenne Gandara connected on her sixth home run of the season to tie the game up in the top of the sixth inning as the sophomore drilled the 2-2 offering with none out, scoring Stevi Johnson, to knot the game up at 2-2.
However, the Bucs were unable to take advantage of runners on first and third with none out in the top of the seventh as CSU fell for just the fifth time this season.
Senior right-hander Jennifer Giles (3-2) hurled a complete game inside the circle for the Bucs in taking the loss. She allowed seven hits and three runs (two earned), while striking out two.
CSU threatened in each of the first three innings as the Buccaneers left runners in scoring position in the top of the first, second and third frames. Amanda Matsumoto was stranded on second after the first inning, while Georgi DeLio and Brooke Lein were left on second and third in the second. Matsumoto and Marci Christian were both left on base in the third frame.
Meanwhile, South Alabama plated their first run of the contest in the bottom of the first as Blair Johnson was hit by a pitch with the bases loaded allowing Emily Messer to score and put the Jaguars up 1-0.
The Jaguars added their second run of the game to go up 2-0 in the bottom of the fourth on Messer's sacrifice fly to left field as Gwen Jones beat out Brook Richardson's throw to the plate to double the USA lead.
The Bucs answered in the top of the sixth inning as Johnson worked a full-count before drawing a lead-off walk. Gandara followed with her sixth home run of the season, clearing the netting above the fence in left field and bouncing off the track to tie the game up at 2-2.
After a 1-2-3 bottom of the sixth, CSU threatened to take their first lead of the game as Natalie Yonan led off the frame with a walk. Richardson followed with an infield single with the throw skipping off the first baseman's glove allowing Yonan to take third on the play. USA reliever Kalen McGill (6-0) rebounded to retire the next three batters leading to the Rathburn walk-off.
Game Two: South Carolina 10, Charleston Southern 3
Cheyenne Gandara went deep for the second time in as many games with a two-run shot in the bottom of the first to tie the game up at 2-2, but the Gamecocks added runs in the second, third, fourth, fifth and seven innings in taking the win.
Gandara knotted the game up with a two-run blast, her seventh of the season, in the bottom of the first. However, Gamecock home runs off the bats of Taylor Williams and Sarah Mooney gave USC an early margin they would not give up the rest of the way.
Brittany McPherson added an RBI double in the bottom of the sixth. The hit was McPherson's first of the season and first extra-base hit of her collegiate career as the Bucs fell in both ends of a doubleheader for the first time this season.
Lauren Masters singled in Kristen Struett in the top of the first and Sarah Mooney followed with a triple off the right field fence plating Masters to stake the tournament host to the early 2-0 lead.
Stevi Johnson singled through the right side with two outs in the bottom of the frame for the Bucs bringing Gandara to the plate. The sophomore pitcher followed up with her second home run of the day, lofting the 2-2 pitch from Nickie Blue off of the net behind the left field fence to tie the game up at 2-2.
South Carolina added two runs in the second, third and fourth innings highlighted by home runs from Taylor Williams and Mooney in the second and fourth innings, while the Gamecocks took advantage of a CSU error to plate both runs in the third in building the six-run advantage.
The Gamecocks added a single run in the top of the fifth as Krystan White scored when Georgi DeLio threw out Ansley Ard attempting to steal. Jennifer Giles came into the circle to close out the frame and kept South Carolina off the board to put the margin at 9-2.
The Bucs took one back in the sixth as McPherson one-hopped the left field fence down the line scoring Amanda Matsumoto, putting the score at 9-3.
South Carolina tallied the final run in the top of the seventh on Kaylea Snaer's RBI single.
Gandara (5-4) suffered the loss inside the circle for the Bucs going 4.1 innings in scattering 11 hits. She went over the 60 strikeout mark on the season with six in the game to put her total at 61.