CHARLESTON, S.C. - Tyler Weekley turned in a strong start for the Buccaneers and the combination of Wil Hartsell, Eddie Hiott, and Cody Smith completed the job for Charleston Southern on Wednesday afternoon as CSU took the 4-2 win over Winthrop.
Weekley (2-0) went 5.1 innings in his first start of the season and was in control throughout the afternoon allowing six hits and two runs (one earned) while striking out five in the contest. Hartsell excelled in the relief outing with the junior retiring the first four batters he faced on strikes. Hiott also retired four in a row before turning the ball over to Smith (S, 5) who retired the Eagles in order to close out the contest.
The Bucs' (10-4) bats came to life with seven of the nine batters in the starting lineup recording hits against the Winthrop (7-10) pitching staff. Nate Blanchard, Brandon Gragilla, and Cole German all recorded two hits apiece in the contest with German connecting on the go-ahead RBI triple in the bottom of the fifth.
Thad Harris (0-5) suffered the loss for the Eagles allowing two runs in his lone inning of relief on the afternoon. Zach Peek went the first four innings allowing six hits and two runs, while Carson Gregory faced two batters over the minimum in the final three frames for WU.
The Bucs struck first in the bottom of the first inning as CSU loaded the bases with a trio of singles off the bats of Blanchard, Jason Miller, and Gragilla. Mike Sconzo brought home Blanchard with a groundout to the right side to give the Bucs the early 1-0 lead.
Winthrop tied it up in the top of the second on Scout McFalls' RBI double down the right field line. His bouncing grounder cleared the glove of CSU's Aaron Miller and brought home Babe Thomas to tie the game up at 1-1 with two outs in the frame.
Gragilla connected on his second single with a shot to right field that handcuffed the Winthrop outfielder and brought home the second CSU run in the bottom of the third. Chris Singleton crossed the plate after reaching earlier in the frame with a lead-off single. He picked up his eighth stolen base of the season to advance into scoring position two batters before Gragilla brought him across to give CSU the 2-1 lead.
The Eagles tied it back up in the top of the fourth as Winthrop took advantage of a CSU throwing error and another McFalls' RBI to even the score at 2-2. Thomas reached on a single and advanced to second on the Bucs' error before coming around to score on McFalls' shallow single to left field.
Cole German sparked the Bucs' bats in the bottom of the fifth with a two-out triple down the right field line scoring Gragilla to give CSU the 3-2 lead. Kyle Vesnesky brought him home two batters later with a RBI single to left to double the CSU lead.
The Bucs' bullpen proved dominant in the contest with the Eagles as the relievers allowed only a Brandon Fite two-out double in the seventh over the final 3.2 innings of play.
Smith retired the side in the ninth for his Big South-leading fifth save of the season
- Wednesday afternoon marked Brandon Gragilla's third straight multi-hit game and sixth of the season as the senior designated hitter continues to rake early. He entered the contest second in the Big South in batting average and raised it to .432 following the contest against the Eagles.
- CSU continues to defend the CSU Ballpark in the 2017 season as the Bucs improved to 9-2 at home this year. The Bucs are off to their best start at their home venue since the 2014 season when CSU started off 13-3 at home on their way to a 20-12 mark in the Ballpark.
- Wil Hartsell's four consecutive strikeouts from the end of the sixth into the seventh inning marked the second time a CSU reliever retired the first four batters he faced in a game on punch-outs in the 2017 season. Eddie Hiott previously achieved the mark on February 26th against VCU when the left-hander retired the first four batters he faced on strikes from the fifth to the seventh innings.
"All those guys on the mound did a great job today. We had one walk over nine innings and really proved if you throw strikes and field behind our pitchers, we're going to be alright. I'm proud of those guys," – Interim Head Coach Adam Ward on the pitching staff on Wednesday.
"This weekend is going to be a good challenge for us. Longwood is a good, well-coached team. We'll be getting back on the bus again tomorrow and get ready to probably face similar conditions to what we faced on the field today. We'll have to be sound in all three areas of the game this weekend," – Ward looking ahead to this weekend's series at Longwood.
Charleston Southern travels to Farmville, Va., and Charles Buddy Bolding Stadium for a three-game Big South Conference series at Longwood. Friday's first pitch has been moved to 4 p.m. and Saturday's start time has been adjusted to 3 p.m. due to weather concerns in the area. Sunday wraps up with a first pitch slated for 2 p.m.