CHARLESTON, S.C. - A seventh-inning rally helped visiting Ohio State hold off Charleston Southern on the final day of the CSU Tournament as the Buccaneers suffered their first loss of the 2015 season to the Buckeyes, 10-6.
Ohio State scored four in the top of the third and five in the top of the seventh, but CSU battled back and had a chance to tie in the bottom of their final at-bats as the Bucs loaded the bases in the bottom of the seventh with two outs. However, Alex DiDomenico shut down the CSU offense getting Lexie Vanada out on strikes to end the game and end the CSU threat.
"Ohio State is a really, really good team," said CSU head coach Shane Winkler. "They are going to do some damage in the Big Ten. They threw three really talented pitchers at us and we competed well. It is unfortunate getting our first loss, but one thing we tell the team is that 'it's not win or lose, it is win or learn.' We had three big wins this weekend and a great opportunity to learn from the way we played today."
Stephanie Baro got the offense rolling for CSU with a solo home run in the bottom of the first and Georgi DeLio and Cheyenne Gandara hit back-to-back blasts in the bottom of the fifth for the CSU offense as the Bucs connected on eight hits off of four different Ohio State pitchers on the contest. The home runs were Baro and Gandara's first collegiate four-baggers, while DeLio picked up her second career home run, first since last season's Big South Tournament.
"Our lineup card is tough to fill out every game," Winkler commented. "We've got 13 or 14 players who can play every day and only nine spots to fill, which is a good problem to have. We are going to have power from seven hitters in our lineup every game and this is the most powerful team we've had here in my tenure."
Cheyenne Gandara (2-1) sufferd her first loss of the season as the sophomore right-hander went six innings, allowing 10 hits and 10 runs (nine earned). She struck out four before giving way to Jennifer Giles who closed out the final inning inside the circle.
"We've got a great pitching staff and our pitchers threw fine today," said Winkler. "We've got to limit the big innings and credit Ohio State today as they took advantage when we gave them opportunities. We expect to be in every game we play this year."
After a scoreless first inning by Gandara and Ohio State starting pitcher Lena Springer, Baro put the Bucs on the board in the bottom of the second as the freshman third baseman connected on her first career collegiate hit, driving the ball over the centerfield fence with two outs to put the Bucs ahead 1-0.
Ohio State responded in the top of the third on Caitlin Conrad's three-run home run, scoring Bailee Sturgeon and Alex Bayne with one out. Anna Kirk added a sacrifice fly later in the frame scoring Taylor Watkins to give OSU the 4-1 lead after three.
The Buckeyes plated their fifth run in the top of the fifth inning as Maddy McIntyre drilled a two-out single up the middle scoring Cammi Prantl.
CSU cut the deficit down to one in the bottom half of the frame. DeLio drove in Matsumoto, who led off the frame with an infield single, with a two-run shot to straightaway centerfield off of CSU reliever Shelby Hursh (2-0) to pull the score back to within 5-3. Gandara followed two pitches later with a solo home run landing just to the right of DeLio's ball behind the fence as the Bucs went back-to-back for the first time in the 2015 season.
After a scoreless sixth frame, Ohio State took control of the game with five runs in the top of the seventh. Kirk provided the big hit in the inning with a two-run double, while Jayla Saibene, Conrad and Prantl all added RBI in the inning.
The Bucs fought back in the bottom of the seventh loading the bases with two outs against O'Reilly. CSU scored their first run of the inning as Natalie Yonan drew a walk scoring Cierra Robinson. DiDomenico came in for the Buckeyes following the walk and retired Vanada on strikes to end the game and CSU's final threat.
Charleston Southern is back in action next weekend as CSU hosts their second tournament of the spring season taking on Howard, Delaware and Toledo from February 13-15. The Bucs open play on Friday, February 13, against Delaware with first pitch scheduled for 1 p.m.