Gragilla powers Bucs to midweek win over USC Upstate

Gragilla powers Bucs to midweek win over USC Upstate

CHARLESTON, S.C. - Brandon Gragilla came through with a pair of timely hits, including his first home run of the season, as Charleston Southern topped visiting USC Upstate on Wednesday night at the Ballpark, 4-3.

Gragilla launched a two-out, 2-1 pitch over the centerfield fence to narrow the Bucs' deficit down to 3-2 in the bottom of the fifth. The senior designated hitter followed with the game-tying RBI single in his next at-bat in the bottom of the seventh sparking the go-ahead rally in the frame.

Michael Sconzo followed Gragilla's single with a sacrifice fly driving home Jason Miller to put CSU (5-2) ahead for good. Wil Hartsell (1-2) and Cody Smith (S, 3) recorded perfect eighth and ninth frames to close out the Buccaneer victory.

Gragilla and Cole German both had two-hit contests in the game with German connecting on his first double of the season in the bottom of the fourth inning.

Evan Nations recorded the start for the Bucs with the junior right-hander going the first 4.0 innings, allowing four hits and two runs while striking out two. Tyler Weekly allowed an unearned run in the fifth before turning over the ball to Hartsell in the sixth.

Hartsell went three innings in his first relief appearance of the season with the junior allowing one hit while striking out three. Smith took over in the ninth and recorded his Big South-leading third save of the season with a pair of strikeouts before getting a groundout to Nate Blanchard at second base to end the contest.

Trey Van der Weide (1-1) suffered the loss for the Spartans (3-6) allowing 2.0 innings and two earned runs while striking out two. Blake Whitney went the first 4.0 innings in the no-decision for the Spartans, while Brian Boocock and Sean Hupp both saw time on the mound in the midweek match-up.

Upstate took the early 1-0 lead in the top of the first as Charlie Carpenter connected on his third home run of the season with the ball clearing the fence in centerfield.

The Spartans added to their lead in the fourth as Russel Schwertfeger connected on a one-out sacrifice fly bringing home Carpenter to double the Upstate lead.

CSU took one back in the bottom half of the frame as Kyle Vesnesky connected on a two-out RBI double to left center bringing home German. German reached in the inning with a double down the right field line.

Upstate added to their lead in the fifth with the Spartans taking advantage of a bases-loaded CSU error to extend the lead to 3-1.

Gragilla provided the fireworks for the Bucs in the bottom of the fifth with a towering two-out home run to cut the Spartans' lead to 3-2.

CSU took the lead for good in the bottom of the seventh as the Bucs utilized a one-out rally in building the 4-3 lead. Blanchard started the rally with a lead-off bunt single and advanced to second on Jason Miller's base hit to shallow center field. Gragilla followed with a bouncing single through the left side of the infield scoring Blanchard to even the score. Sconzo followed with a sacrifice fly to left field bringing in Miller.

Hartsell retired Upstate in order in the top of the eighth and then Smith followed with perfect ninth to close out the win.

Buccaneer Notables

  • Cody Smith earned his Big South-leading third save of the season following a perfect ninth inning. Smith (1-0) has posted a perfect 0.00 ERA in 4.2 innings while striking out eight on the year.
  • Brandon Gragilla became the fourth Buccaneer to leave the Ballpark in the 2017 season with the senior designated hitter driving the ball out of the park in the fifth inning. He joins Cole German (3), Chris Singleton (1), and Nate Blanchard (1) with home runs on the season for CSU.
  • Chris Singleton saw his on-base streak snapped on Wednesday night. The CSU junior outfielder had reached base in eight straight games dating back to the 2016 season but was unable to reach in any of his four plate appearances on the night.
  • CSU recorded its fourth come-from-behind victory in the 2017 season on Wednesday night. The Bucs have only led from start to finish in one contest this year, a 4-2 win over VCU on February 25.

Coach's Comments
"At this point, our guys know to stay with it and keep battling. I thought we hit some balls hard those first four-five innings and didn't have much to show for it. The guys just kept going after it and kept fighting and found a way to get it done," – Interim Head Coach Adam Ward on the Bucs' fourth come-from-behind win of the season.

"Those two RBI were huge tonight. He's a guy you can count on to have good at-bats every time he's up at the plate. He doesn't seem to waste an at-bat and he'll break through and get hot for us, which he did tonight," – Ward on Brandon Gragilla's big night at the plate.

They Said It
"I was trying to keep it calm and staying relaxed up there at the plate. Every pitch I swing at I try to do some damage. I just stick to my approach and hopefully, good things happen," – Brandon Gragilla on his 2-for-3 night at the plate including a solo home run and game-tying RBI single.

Up Next
Charleston Southern hosts a three-game set against Hofstra starting with a doubleheader on March 4. First pitch on the Big South Network is set for 1 p.m.

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