ROCK HILL, S.C. - No. 7 Charleston Southern was unable to ride the hot bat of Jade Gandara in Thursday's elimination game as the Buccaneers saw their season come to an end against No. 6 Presbyterian at the Big South Conference Championships, 8-5.
Gandara went 4-for-4 from the plate with a pair of two-run home runs and two doubles in the contest to pace the Bucs offense in the game. The freshman from Hemet, Calif. went 7-for-8 overall with four home runs, two doubles, eight RBI and five runs scored over CSU's two postseason games at the 2016 Big South Championships.
Gandara homered in both the first and the seventh innings in attempt to spark CSU rallies in both frames, but CSU was unable to take advantage of 10 hits off of Presbyterian starter Sydney Seigler in the loss. Seigler went the distance for the Blue Hose, striking out two in the win.
Hayley Elkins suffered the loss for CSU in the circle after going 2.2 innings in the start. Arizona Pilgrim went the final 3.1 innings in relief, allowing three hits and two runs to close out the season.
CSU took the early lead against the Blue Hose in the top of the first inning as Gandara connected on a one-out offering from Seigler, driving the ball over the right centerfield fence and scoring Amanda Matsumoto to give the Bucs the 2-0 lead. Matsumoto led off the inning with a bunt single and advanced around the bases on a stolen base and a Stephanie Bergmann sacrifice bunt before the Gandara home run.
Erin Ruff answered for the Blue Hose in the bottom of the first. PC's leadoff batter connected on a long fly ball that nicked the top of the fence before bouncing beyond the field of play for a solo home run to narrow the CSU lead to 2-1.
Hope Rogers tied the game up for the Blue Hose in the bottom of the second inning, bringing in Jordan Ashley on a bases-loaded infield single to even the score at 2-2.
Gandara and Caitlyn Emberson combined to give the Bucs the lead in the top of the third inning. Gandara led off the inning with a double that short-hopped the wall in left field. After Stevi Johnson dropped down a sacrifice bunt advancing Gandara to third, Emberson connected on a soft popup that fell in-between the PC fielders in shallow centerfield for an RBI single.
Rogers capped off a six-run inning for the Blue Hose in the bottom of the third with a grand slam to right centerfield as the Blue Hose took an 8-3 lead. Madison Longanecker added an RBI groundout, while Jill Harris drew a bases-loaded walk in the frame before Rogers cleared the bases with the home run.
Seigler and Pilgrim both settled in after the Rogers home run as the pitchers battled each other through scoreless frames in the fourth, fifth and sixth innings.
Charleston Southern mounted a rally in the top of the seventh with Gandara connecting on her second home run of the contest, this time scoring Bergmann on the play, to cut the PC lead down to 8-5. Johnson and Brittany McPherson both drew walks to bring the tying run to the plate before Seigler was able to record the final out and close out the contest.