CHARLESTON, S.C. - Charleston Southern split on the second day of the CSU Invitational as the Buccaneers fell in the early game against Western Carolina, 6-5, before rebounding to take the late afternoon game against North Carolina A&T, 3-1.
CSU moves to 6-1 overall in the 2016 season. The Bucs will take on North Carolina A&T in the final game of the CSU Invitational tomorrow afternoon at the CSU Softball Field with first pitch scheduled for 3 p.m.
Game One: Western Carolina 6, Charleston Southern 5
Karley Harkey connected on a grand slam in the top of the seventh inning to pace the Western Carolina comeback against CSU starter Hayley Elkins (3-1) as the Catamounts topped the Buccaneers, 6-5.
WCU loaded the bases with none out in the frame as Courtney Price and Anna Hughey connected on back-to-back singles, while Hunter Gibbons drew a walk. Harkey followed with a home run to straightaway centerfield clearing the bases to give the Catamounts the 6-5 lead.
CSU mounted a rally in the bottom half of the inning with Georgi DeLio reaching base for the fourth time in the game on a walk. Brooke Lein followed with a walk to put the go-ahead run on first base with one out, but WCU's Taylor Sigmon pitched around the trouble to close out the game for her first save of the season.
Elkins went the distance for her fourth complete game of the season. The sophomore right-hander allowed seven hits, striking out six in her first loss on the weekend.
Courtney Buchanan picked up the win for the Catamounts, surrendering five hits and two runs while striking out five in 3.0 innings of relief action.
The Buccaneers came out swinging in the bottom of the first inning, but strong defensive play by the Catamounts nearly kept CSU off the scoreboard. CSU's Amanda Matsumoto was thrown out at the plate attempting to score on Stephanie Baro's single to left field, but Stevi Johnson followed with an RBI sacrifice fly scoring Jade Gandara for the first run of the game.
Destini Ewing and Natalie Yonan added two more runs for the Bucs in the bottom of the fourth inning. Ewing tripled in DeLio with one out in the frame. Yonan followed five pitches later with a single to right field to give the Bucs the 3-1 lead as Ewing crossed the plate.
The Catamounts answered in the top of the fifth as Price and Gibbons both connected on solo home runs to narrow the gap to 3-2.
The Bucs added their final run in the bottom of the fifth as Lein singled in Stephanie Bergmann.
Game Two: Charleston Southern 3, N.C. A&T 1 (6 innings)
Stephanie Baro and Stevi Johnson connected on back-to-back RBI doubles in the bottom of the third to provide CSU all the offense the Buccaneers would need as CSU topped North Carolina A&T in the final game of the day, 3-1.
Arizona Pilgrim (3-0) picked up her third win of the season in the contest with the freshman right-hander going 4.0 innings, scattering three hits and striking out two in the win. Nicole Ayala pitched the final two innings in picking up her first save of the season.
The Aggies utilized small ball to plate a run in the top of the first inning. After Alejandra Barcenas led off with a single through the left side of the infield, she was sacrificed over to second on a Raven Gray bunt. A passed ball moved her over to third where she scored on a fielder's choice off the bat of Mohagony Headen to give N.C. A&T the early lead.
The Bucs responded in the bottom of the third inning with a two-out rally. Baro drilled a double down the left field line scoring Destini Ewing and Jade Gandara to give CSU the 2-1 lead. Johnson followed three pitches later with a double to the fence in right centerfield scoring Baro to put CSU ahead 3-1.
Pilgrim cruised through the Aggies' lineup following the first inning, retiring the final seven batters she faced before turning the ball over to Ayala in the top of the fifth.
Ayala went through the final two innings allowing two runners in scoring position before the Bucs defense took over in closing out the win.