CHARLESTON, S.C. - Charleston Southern's offense started off strong and Nik Constantakos pitched into the eighth inning as CSU took the series win over Delaware State, 3-1.
Constantakos (1-0) allowed a run in the first inning before settling in with a solid performance in his first time on the mound with the Bucs (2-1). The Jupiter, Fla. native went 7.1 innings and allowed eight hits, all singles, and struck out two in taking the win. Eddie Hiott pitched the Bucs out of a jam in the eighth inning, and then Cody Smith utilized a timely double play by Aaron Miller in the ninth in recording his first save of the season.
Miller also shined at the plate for CSU in the contest with the freshman first baseman opening the game with a two-run single in the first on his way to a 2-for-4 outing at the plate. Jason Miller added a RBI double in the third inning among his two hits in the game, while Blanchard went 3-for-4 from the plate with a run scored to pace the Bucs.
Delaware State (1-2) struck first in the contest with Darnell Maisonet connecting on a RBI single down the left field line scoring Kwestin Smith to stake the Hornets to the early 1-0 lead.
Sunny skies and swirling winds played a positive factor for CSU's offense in the bottom half of the frame as Delaware State struggled to track several fly balls in the frame. Blanchard led off the inning reaching on a dropped fly ball in shallow centerfield. He advanced to second on a sharply hit single off the bat of Chris Singleton before the elements took over the game.
Back-to-back fly balls to right field off the bats of Jason Miller and Aaron Miller were lost in the sun and fell to the turf allowing both Blanchard and Singleton to score and give the Bucs the 2-1 lead. DSU starter Garrett Lawson (0-1) limited the damage with a double play to end the inning.
Singleton came up with the defensive play of the game in the top of the third inning as the junior centerfielder played Maisonet's single with runners in scoring position perfectly. Singleton's relay to the plate bounced off the front of the mound and into the waiting glove of Mike Sconzo at the plate in time to nail Smith and end the DSU threat.
Jason Miller added to the Bucs' lead in the bottom of the frame with a two-out double that bounced down the third base line. Singleton scored on the play to give the Bucs the 3-1 advantage after three innings of play.
Constantakos, in the meantime, relied on his defense and retired eight batters in a row at one point on his way to guiding the Bucs through the middle part of the game. The freshman right-hander threw 78 pitches in the contest and left in the top of the eighth after allowing a one-out single to Evan Regez. Hiott came in and allowed a single to Maisonet to put runners on first and second, but the sophomore left-hander retired the next two batters in order to keep the lead intact.
Smith started the ninth for CSU and allowed a lead-off single to Jared Gillis. Aaron Miller took him off the base paths with a snag on Todd Henry's line drive and completed the double play. Smith took the final out himself on a grounder up the middle to close out the contest.
Lawson suffered the loss for DSU going 6.2 innings and allowing nine hits and three runs (two earned) while striking out four.
- Nate Blanchard reached base in all four plate appearances on Sunday afternoon and recorded his second three-hit game of the weekend. He currently sits second in the Big South in hits (6) on the season.
- Nik Constantakos' 7.1 innings start on Sunday afternoon was the Big South's second-longest outing by a starter on the weekend trailing only Gardner-Webb's Bradley Hallman who went 8.0 innings in the Runnin' Bulldogs win over Canisius on Sunday.
- The series win over the Hornets' was CSU's first series win since the Bucs swept Massachusetts last season on March 5-6 at Joe Riley Park.
- CSU took the series win for the fourth time in the last five years with CSU's lone slip-up during the stretch coming last season against West Virginia.
- Jason Miller's third inning double was CSU's first two-bagger of the season. The Bucs hit one extra base hit in each of the three games with Alex Andronica's triple in the opener, Cole German's walk-off home run on Saturday afternoon, and Miller's double on Sunday.
"I'm really proud of that guy. It's tough as a freshman getting your first action, and he handled it admirably. We're on a tighter pitch count early in the year and the guy just did a great job of pitching to contact so that we could stretch him out to seven innings. Have to tip your hat to that guy." - Interim Head Coach Adam Ward on Nik Constantakos' first collegiate start.
"It's always good to score first. We didn't quite do that because they had a run in the first, but it's always good to get on the board early. It eases the pressure a little so you're not pressing later. We had a couple of big swings early and the pitching staff did what they needed to do to hold the lead. – Ward on CSU's early offensive output.
"It's a good start. We're 2-1 and we'll take it one game at a time. We've got a game on Tuesday and we'll see where we go from there." – Ward on winning his first series as the interim head coach.
They Said It
"Every day is a new day. God's here; He's always here, and I was ready for it. I can't do it all by myself and had my team behind me today. If it wasn't for them, this game wouldn't have happened. It feels good to get this win and hope it's the first of many." – Freshman Pitcher Nik Constantakos on his first collegiate win.
Charleston Southern heads to the road for the first time this season as the Buccaneers travel to Savannah State on Tuesday afternoon. First pitch between the Bucs and the Tigers at the Tiger Baseball Field is set for 5 p.m.