SAVANNAH, Ga. – Charleston Southern came out victorious in both ends of their season-opening doubleheader at Savannah State on Thursday, defeating the Tigers 15-9 in game one and 12-5 in game two.
The Buccaneers (2-0) were led by Cheyenne Gandara's (1-0) return to the circle, while freshman Holly Clark made her collegiate debut and closed out both CSU wins with a combined seven strikeouts over the two games. Arizona Pilgrim showed off her stamina, pitching five innings of the second game and recorded five strikeouts.
Offensively, the Bucs were hot at the plate led by Mallory Kasinger's pair of home runs, including a grand slam. She led the Bucs with eight RBI on the day. Jade Gandara, Caitlyn Emberson, Brittany McPherson, and Cheyenne Gandara also added home runs over the two games.
CSU will return home to host #14 James Madison, #17/19 Missouri and USC Upstate in the 2017 Wingate by Wyndham Invitational beginning Friday. First pitch between the Buccaneers and Mizzou is set for 12 p.m. tomorrow on the Big South Network.
Game One: Charleston Southern 15, Savannah State 9
It was a battle of the hitters as both teams got runs on the board early. Jade Gandara got the Buccaneers' (1-0) bats going with a solo home run to right field for her first at-bat of the 2017 season. Savannah State (0-1) answered in the bottom of the inning with a single from leadoff Chasney Jenkins. After advancing to third on a wild pitch, Jenkins scored off Alexis Singleton's hit to right field to tie the game up at 1-1.
The Buccaneers didn't let up in the top of the second as McPherson and Stevi Johnson opened the inning with singles. A wild pitch allowed both runners to advance and Georgi DeLio loaded the bases with a walk. Amanda Matsumoto was able to bring McPherson across the plate with a walk as the Bucs went into the bottom of the inning with a 2-1 lead. The Tigers evened the score at 2-2 after Drea Lesure doubled and scored off of two wild pitches.
CSU gained the upper hand in the third with a two-run home run from Caitlyn Emberson to pull ahead 4-2. Gandara held Savannah State scoreless in the third and closed out the inning with back-to-back strikeouts. The Buccaneers added four runs in the fourth with a triple and homerun from sister power-hitters Jade and Cheyenne Gandara and a Johnson double for the 8-2 lead. Cheyenne Gandara held the Tigers hitless in the bottom of the fourth and added two more strikeouts to wrap up the inning.
Destini Ewing added a run for the Bucs off an error in the top of the fifth, but Savannah State put pressure on CSU in the bottom of the inning with five hits and five runs to narrow CSU's lead to 9-7. McPherson gave the Bucs some cushion with a two-run home run in the top of the sixth, but the Tigers answered with runs from Shelby Eccles and Jenkins to put the score at 11-9 heading into the final inning.
CSU never lost the lead and added four more runs in their road victory as Johnson got on base with a double that Kasinger followed with a home run. Clark closed out CSU's season-opener win in the circle with her second career strikeout and a scoreless inning for the Tigers.
Game Two: Charleston Southern 12, Savannah State 5
Charleston Southern thwarted another Savannah State comeback effort to sweep the doubleheader series in a 12-5 victory on Thursday night.
Kasinger led the Buccaneers (2-0) at the plate. The freshman recorded five RBIs with an RBI double in the second inning and a grand slam in the fifth for her second home run on the afternoon. Pilgrim (1-0) struck out five batters and allowed five earned runs over five innings. Clark entered the game in the bottom of the sixth and closed out the Buccaneer win with four strikeouts and two hitless innings.
After leading 3-1 through the fourth inning, CSU added four more runs in the fifth. Several walks and wild pitches led to loaded bases for the Bucs as Kasinger came to the plate with no outs and connected on a grand slam for the 7-1 CSU lead and her second home run of the day.
Savannah State started a comeback in the bottom of the inning as Chasney Jenkins sparked a rally with a single to center field. Brianna Harris followed with a single to knock in two runs and put the score at 7-3. Cortni Jones kept the Tigers going with a triple to center field and scored off a home run from Alexis Singleton to close the gap to 7-5 at the end of the sixth inning.
The Buccaneers once again finished strong and added five runs to their lead highlighted by a double from Jade Gandara and closed out their last at bat with the 12-5 lead. Clark struck out Savannah State's first batter and held the Tigers hitless in the final inning as CSU recorded its first two wins of the 2017 season.