CHARLESTON, S.C. – Junior outfielder Dante Blakeney smacked a game-winning grand slam in the bottom of the third inning and the Charleston Southern baseball team notched their first win of the 2019 campaign Saturday night 7-3 over La Salle from Nielsen Field at CSU Ballpark.
Blakeney's blast to right field ignited a seven-run night for the CSU (1-1) offense as senior designated hitter Jason Miller added a three-hit night in the win.
La Salle (1-1) saw hits from Nick O'Day, Kevin McGowan, Nick Hopkins and Tommy Toal, but never pieced together a strong enough rally.
After the Explorers scored a pair in the fifth on a bases-loaded walk and fielding error, CSU responded with a two-run frame of their own thanks to back-to-back singles from Josh Litchfield and Reid Hardwick. Those two came in to score on an RBI infield single from Ryan Stoudemire then a Javon Martin RBI knock to make it 6-2 Bucs.
Junior righty Cam Weinberger made his CSU debut Saturday carrying a no-hit bid into the fifth, but couldn't escape a jam finishing the night with three strikeouts, four walks and two runs, one earned across 4.1 innings of work. Junior righty Seth Owens came in and limited the damage to just two in a one-out bases-loaded jam before senior Eddie Hiott spun a perfect two frames in the sixth and seventh.
Freshman RJ Petit also made his collegiate debut surrendering one run but struck out two batters before sophomore Jordan Bridges shut the door in the ninth with three strikeouts after surrendering a leadoff single.
La Salle's starter Jackson Ray took the loss giving up six runs, all earned in 4.0 innings while striking out three Bucs and walking two. Colin Kennedy came in to toss the final 4.0 innings for the Explorers surrendering an unearned run and three hits while striking out three.
How It Happened
- After trading zeros through two-and-a-half frames, junior outfielder Dante Blakeney took a hanging breaking ball and smacked a grand slam over the right field fence for his first home run and 4 RBI's as a Buccaneer.
- His one swing cleared the bases after Ryan Rizk began the inning with a single then Jason Miller singled and Ryan Stoudemire walked, setting the stage for Blakeney's blast.
- La Salle was able to get a hit on the board in the fifth and chased CSU starter Cam Weinberger after loading the bases, then pushed across two runs before Seth Owens closed the book on the frame.
- CSU responded quickly as Hardwick and Miller each singled then scored in RBI hits from Stoudemire and Martin.
- La Salle added their final run on a fielding error from the Bucs in the eighth, but CSU answered right back with their final tally on an Explorer error.
News and Notes
- Two freshmen made their CSU debuts Saturday – Kyle Horton in right field and RJ Petit in relief – after three Bucs made their collegiate debuts Friday night.
- Jason Miller scored two runs and led the team with three hits, nearly finishing with four as his lone out came on a diving grab from La Salle's Tommy Toal.
- After a night in which both teams combine for eight errors, each only committed just one Friday night while the CSU offense strung together timely hits.
- Six different Bucs crossed the plate Saturday led by Miller's two scores while Josh Litchfield, Reid Hardwick, Ryan Stoudemire, Dante Blakeney and Ryan Rizk all accounted for runs.
- The trio of Eddie Hiott, Cam Weinberger and Jordan Bridges each struck out three La Salle batters as CSU has only surrendered six walks across the first 18 innings of baseball.
What They're Saying
"(Blakeney) put a good swing on it, that's for sure. Dante's a good hitter. He came up in a big spot and he's one of the guys you want at the plate when the game's on the line and the bases are loaded. He's definitely a guy we can count on to drive in runs." – Ward on Blakeney's grand slam.
"Jason's seeing it well and he's a good hitter – you can't keep guys like him down for too long. He's a good player who will collect hits for us." – Ward on Miller's three-hit night.
"We played clean baseball for the most part, guys threw strikes and we had some big hits. It'll take the same things tomorrow for a win." – Ward on the win and Sunday's matchup.
"It felt like a great swing, I was hoping it got out, but I was just trying to do what I could for the team in that situation. It was a hanging breaking ball that I saw early and tried to put a good swing on it." Blakeney on his clutch home run.
"Our leadoff guy, Josh Litchfield, set the tone for us and got us fired up. We just kept passing the torch to the next man and we were able to capitalize. It'll take a lot of energy and guys playing for each other and play as on unit." – Blakeney on the win and matchup Sunday.
CSU finishes the weekend with a Sunday matinee seeking a series win in the rubber match. First pitch is slated for 1 p.m. from CSU Ballpark.