CONWAY, S.C. - Coastal Carolina utilized a seventh-inning rally in topping visiting Charleston Southern on Tuesday afternoon as the Buccaneers fell 4-3 to the Chanticleers in the Big South series finale.
Bri Chiusano scored the winning run for the Chants (33-19, 16-5) on Kelsey Dominik's deep grounder as the Bucs (21-30, 9-12) were unable to complete the fielder's choice at second base with Morgan Noad sliding in ahead of the throw to end the game.
The Chants' late rally spoiled another power display by Caitlyn Emberson and Brittany McPherson as the duo connected on back-to-back home runs in the top of the third inning. The back-to-back blasts were the first for the Bucs this season after doing it three times last year.
CSU's defense highlighted the early innings as the Buccaneers turned three double plays over the first three innings. Stephanie Bergmann made a diving catch in foul territory and threw from her knee across the field in the first inning to double off the CCU runner. In the second inning, Stevi Johnson fielded the grounder up the middle, stepping on second and relaying the ball to first to complete the play. The Bucs ended the third inning as Hayley Elkins snagged a soft line drive up the middle and caught the Coastal runner off first base.
Elkins (10-22) suffered the loss in the circle for CSU with the sophomore right-hander going the distance in the game. Elkins struck out the first two batters of the seventh inning before the Chants pushed across the winning run. She surrendered six hits and four runs (three earned), while striking out seven.
CCU's Mackenzie Conrad picked up the win in the circle for the Chanticleers going the final 2.1 innings in no-hit relief, while striking out three.
Charleston Southern took the lead in the top of the third inning as Emberson and McPherson connected on back-to-back home runs. Emberson put the Bucs on the board with a two-run shot clearing the centerfield fence and scoring Stevi Johnson. McPherson worked a full count before following Emberson's shot with a solo home run of her own, clearing the centerfield fence and hitting the top of the palm tree to the right of the American flag.
Coastal responded with a run in the bottom of the frame as the Chanticleers loaded the bases on a pair of walks and a fielder's choice before Taty Forbes singled in Timi Tooley.
The Chants tied the game up in the bottom of the fourth as Alexis Alvino singled in Mackenzie Conrad, while Tooley scored for the second time of the game on a passed ball on Angela Buccilli's walk.
The Bucs threatened to retake the lead in the fifth as Emberson and McPherson were both hit by pitches to open the inning. Georgi DeLio sacrificed both runners into scoring position, but the CSU rally fell short as Conrad came in to retire the final two batters of the frame and hold the Bucs scoreless.
Emberson and Bergmann snuffed a CCU rally in the bottom of the sixth inning with Emberson throwing out CCU pinch-runner Devon Steiner attempting to steal with Bergmann applying the tag. Elkins struck out Tooley to end the frame, sending the teams into the seventh.
The Bucs went down in order in the top of the seventh, before the Chants rallied back for the win.
After Elkins retired Alvino and Buccilli on strikes, the Chants loaded the bases as Chiusano and Noad sandwiched a Taty Forbes' bunt single with a pair of walks to load the bases. Dominik followed with the hard-hit grounder leading to the win.
Charleston Southern closes out the 2016 regular season next weekend at the CSU Softball Field as the Buccaneers host Presbyterian in a three-game series on May 7-8. First pitch in Saturday's doubleheader is set for 2 p.m., while the Bucs and Blue Hose close out the series on Sunday with first pitch set for 1 p.m.