KNOXVILLE, Tenn. - Charleston Southern's late rally fell short against Toledo on the final day of the Tennessee Invitational as the Bucs fell to the Rockets, 7-5, at Sherri Parker Lee Stadium.
However, a grand slam off the bat of Toledo's Bailey Curry proved to be the difference as the Rockets (10-5) topped the Bucs for the second time on the weekend.
Arizona Pilgrim (4-3) suffered the loss in the circle on the afternoon after surrendering five runs and three hits in 0.1 innings' pitched. Alyssa Heinrich recorded three innings of three-hit ball in relief, while Nicole Ayala surrendered a walk over the final 1.2 innings to close out the game.
Heather Webb (5-3) picked up the win for the Rockets as both teams combined to use eight pitchers in the contest on Sunday morning. Webb went 3.1 innings in relief, allowing three runs and two hits while striking out two. Kailey Minarchick (S, 3) earned the save after going the final 2.1 innings and pitching around a pair of CSU singles in the seventh.
CSU jumped out to the hot start in the top of the first as Gandara connected on her first home run of the weekend to give the Bucs the 1-0 lead. CSU loaded the bases on a Toledo error, a walk, and a Del Rio single before Destini Ewing drew a four-base free pass to bring home Mallory Kasinger and give the Bucs the 2-0 lead.
Kaitlyn Bergman took one back off starter Holly Clark with an RBI double in the bottom of the first scoring Ami Ill to cut the Bucs' advantage to 2-1.
After CSU went down in the second, the Rockets plated six runs on four hits in the frame with Curry's grand slam providing the topper and giving Toledo the 7-2 lead. Brittney Davis and Kylie Norwood both connected on RBI singles prior to the Curry home run to help provide the early lead.
After a quiet third and fourth innings, the Bucs responded in the top of the fifth. Gandara sparked the rally with a one-out walk and Kasinger singled to left center to put two runners on. Following a pop-up, Del Rio connected on the three-run home run to narrow the Toledo lead down to 7-5.
The Bucs mounted one final rally in the top of the seventh with Gandara reaching on an infield single and Sarah Brown connecting on a two-out base hit to right field, but Minarchick was able to close out the contest on a grounder to first to secure the Toledo win.
Gandara (2-for-3) and Del Rio (2-for-4) led CSU's efforts at the plate on the day, while Gandara and Kasinger both scored a pair of runs in the contest. Annie Bakenhus added a single and a stolen base.
News & Notes
- Jade Gandara's solo home run in the top of the first inning was her team-leading seventh home run of the season and the 30th of her career. She becomes just the third CSU player in program history to eclipse 30 career home runs joining Jana Matthews (36, 2010-13) and Marci Christian (43, 2013-15).
- Nina Del Rio's three-run home run in the top of the fifth was her fifth home run of the season, making her the fourth CSU player to achieve the total on the year. She joins Gandara (7), Mallory Kasinger (6), and Sarah Brown (5) as the players who have reached the mark in 2018.
- Annie Bakenhus' stolen base in the top of the second was her seventh stolen base of the season and continues an impressive trend for the Bucs on the base paths this year. The Bucs have recorded at least one stolen base in 12 of the last 13 games and 16 of the 21 games this season.
- The Bucs suffered their first losing weekend in 2018 with their 0-5 mark this weekend at the Tennessee Invitational.
- The Buccaneers' pitching staff did not record a strikeout in today's game for the first time this season.
Charleston Southern returns home for a Tuesday afternoon matchup against Savannah State at the CSU Softball Field. First pitch between the Bucs and the Tigers is set for 3 p.m.