BUIES CREEK, N.C. - Jennifer Giles was nearly perfect in Saturday night's elimination game as the senior right-hander pitched No. 5 Charleston Southern past No. 3 Winthrop, 9-1.
Giles (15-16) faced one batter over the minimum in her second complete game of the day and the Jupiter, Fla., native retired the first 12 batters she faced before allowing a solo home run to Winthrop's Kelsey Ritter, ending the bid for a perfect game. Giles rebounded to get the final three outs, including striking out the final two batters to close out the victory.
"Giles wasn't good, she was outstanding," commented CSU head coach Shane Winkler. "She had a no-hitter until the fifth inning, but what she did today was unbelievable. Shutting down Longwood and giving up only three hits and then tonight only giving up one hit, that is an unbelievable day for a pitcher up against two great offensive teams."
Senior Marci Christian connected on her first home run of the postseason, drilling a three-run shot in the top of the second to spark the CSU offense as the Buccaneers scored in each of the first four innings in pulling away from the Eagles.
"We know what our team is capable of," Winkler said. "We have been battered all year long and know we have to step it up. Giles is going have to do it again tomorrow, and that is a lot to ask, but she is capable and done it throughout her career. It might take a little luck on our side, but we are just happy to survive and advance to one more day."
Giles went the distance for the third time in the tournament, striking out three in the complete game win. Her one-hit effort inside the circle was the second one-hitter the Bucs had thrown this season. Sophomore Cheyenne Gandara hurled a one-hitter in CSU's 8-0 win over UMBC in CSU's season opener.
Charleston Southern faces No. 6 Presbyterian tomorrow morning at 10 a.m. with the game to be streamed live via ESPN3. The Blue Hose have remained undefeated in the tournament with wins over No. 3 Winthrop and No. 2 Coastal Carolina to advance to Saturday's action.
The Bucs struck first in the top of the first as Stephanie Bergmann drilled an RBI double to left field scoring Christian for the first run of the game.
CSU added two more in the third as Amanda Matsumoto drew a bases-loaded walk, while Christian rifled a single to left scoring Georgi DeLio and Richardson to give the Bucs the 6-0 lead after three innings.
Giles retired the first 12 batters she faced before giving up the solo home run to Ritter to open the fifth. The senior right-hander retired the final three batters in a row to end the game.
Of Note: Charleston Southern will be in an unfamiliar position tomorrow morning as the Bucs will be the higher seed and the home team in the tournament for the first time since May 12, 2012. The Bucs had been the visiting team in the tournament for the past 12 games, going 8-4 during the stretch under head coach Shane Winkler.
This tournament marks the fourth straight year CSU has won multiple games in the Big South Tournament, dating back to the 2011 season. The Bucs won three games in 2012 in advancing to the 2012 Championship Game. CSU won two games in the 2013 season. CSU went a perfect 4-0 in the 2014 Big South Championship run on their way to winning the title and the Bucs first NCAA postseason berth.