CHARLESTON, S.C. - Marci Christian homered twice and Cheyenne Gandara went deep as well to lead Charleston Southern to a split on the final day of the CSU Tournament as the Buccaneers topped Jacksonville State, 6-3, while falling to Iona, 4-1.
Christian connected on a pair of home runs against the Gamecocks in their opener, driving in five runs in the Bucs 6-3 win over JSU (12-7). The long balls were the redshirt-senior's 11th and 12th of the season as she continues to advance up the ladder in the CSU record books, sitting five homers behind Jana Matthews (36, 2010-13) with 31 blasts over her past three years in the Bucs Blue and Gold.
Gandara's blast also put her in double-digits in the category with her 10th home run of the season coming in the bottom of the seventh against the Gaels for CSU's lone run of the ball game.
Charleston Southern (14-8) is back in action at home on Tuesday morning as CSU hosts Youngstown State for a doubleheader at the CSU Softball Field. First pitch between the Bucs and the Penguins is set for 11 a.m.
Game One: Charleston Southern 6, Jacksonville State 3
Christian connected on a pair of home runs in both the third and fifth innings in support of a strong pitching outing by Gandara as the Buccaneers overcame an early deficit in topping the visiting Gamecocks in their first game on Saturday afternoon.
Christian's three-run blast in the bottom of the third inning to put the Bucs in the lead, and added a two-run shot against JSU starter Logan Green (5-2) in the bottom of the fifth to end the Gamecocks rally attempt as CSU handed Jacksonville State their only loss of the weekend.
Gandara (9-4) pitched around danger as the Gamecocks connected on 12 hits while placing runners on base in all seven innings in going the distance for her ninth win of the season. She allowed three runs, all unearned, in the contest, while striking out seven in the win.
The Gamecocks plated runs in the first and second as Jamie McGuire drove in Taylor Sloan with a single to right field in the first inning, while Savannah Sloan scored on an errant throw after stealing third in the second inning to take a 2-0 lead.
The Bucs took the lead in the bottom of the third as Stevi Johnson drove in Natalie Yonan on an infield single. Christian followed two pitches later with a three-run shot over the right centerfield fence scoring Matsumoto and Johnson to put CSU ahead 4-2.
Sloan scored her second run of the game to pull the Gamecocks back to within one in the top of the fifth, coming to cross the plate on a two-out passed ball to pull JSU back within 4-3.
Christian responded in the bottom of the frame with a two-out shot to left centerfield putting the Bucs ahead 6-3 as Yonan scored her second run of the game after leading off the inning with a single up the middle.
JSU put the game-tying run on base in the top of the seventh with one out as Sara Borders was hit by a pitch while McGuire doubled to right center. Gandara responded by striking out Cadi Oliver and getting Sloan to pop-out to Christian in foul territory beside the first base line to end the game.
Game Two: Iona 4, Charleston Southern 1
Cheyenne Gandara connected on a solo home run to extend the contest in the bottom of the seventh, but the Buccaneers were unable to overcome a four-run frame in the top of the seventh by the visiting Gaels in closing out the final CSU Tournament of the 2015 season.
Iona (1-5) took advantage of a three-run home off the bat of Sarah Schutz to top Jennifer Giles' (4-4) strong effort inside the circle as the Bucs were only able to muster six hits against Jessica Harkness (1-1) in the losing effort.
Amanda Matsumoto reached on a leadoff single and Christian and Gandara drew back-to-back walks to load the bases in the bottom of the first as CSU threatened to go ahead early. The Bucs were unable to take advantage of the opportunity though as Harkness pitched out of the inning in getting a force out at the plate and an infield popup to retire the side.
Giles in the meantime pitched around trouble in both the third and fifth innings as Brook Richardson tracked down fly outs in both frames to leave the Gaels stranded with two runners on base.
The Bucs loaded the bases again in the bottom of the sixth with two outs as Brittany McPherson dropped a single just over the shortstop's head in centerfield, while Natalie Yonan drove a single through the left side of the infield. Richardson drew a four pitch walk to load the bases before Matsumoto's sharp grounder up the middle was snagged by Katie Newton and she touched second before Richardson could get there to end the frame.
The Gaels put across four runs in the top of the seventh to break the game open. Kelsey Long connected on a double to left center to score Sarah McMahon for the first run of the game. Ashlyn Morris drew a walk and Newton sacrificed both runners into scoring position, before Schutz came up to the plate and connected on her second home run of the season.
Gandara kept the game alive in the bottom of the seventh with a solo home run over the left field fence with two outs, but that was all CSU was able to manage in the loss.