CHARLESTON, S.C. - Charleston Southern's late rally fell short on Wednesday afternoon as the Buccaneers fell to Eastern Illinois for the second time this season, 5-4.
Trailing 5-1 heading into the bottom of the seventh, the Bucs (16-11) rallied for three runs in the frame to put the tying run on second base. Jessica Wireman (S, 4) rebounded from a wild pitch that allowed two runners to score by getting Nina Del Rio on strikes to end the contest and help the Panthers (17-7) end the CSU rally.
Holly Clark (5-5) suffered the loss in the circle after going the first 2.1 innings. The sophomore right-hander allowed nine hits and four runs before handing the ball off to Arizona Pilgrim in the third inning. Pilgrim went the rest of the way allowing two hits and striking out a pair over the final 4.2 innings to close out the contest in relief.
Michelle Rogers (9-3) picked up the win in the circle for the Panthers after allowing one run and one hit through five innings. Rogers struggled to find the strike zone at times issuing five of the EIU pitching staff's eight walks in the game.
The Buccaneers used alert base-running in the bottom of the first inning to put their first run across the plate. Caitlyn Emberson led off the inning with a single through the left side. Kendall Anderson entered to run and stole second. Jade Gandara followed with a walk to put two on with none out. Two batters later, Anderson took third on Sarah Brown's fly out to right field. Gandara allowed herself to get caught in a rundown on a stolen base attempt with Anderson coming home prior to Gandara getting tagged for the last out to give CSU the 1-0 lead.
Eastern Illinois took the lead in the top of the third inning thanks to the bats of Haley Mitchell and Kendyl McKeough. Mitchell connected on an RBI single bringing home Mady Poulter to tie the game up. Two batters later, McKeough connected on a three-run home run over the left centerfield fence bringing home Mia Davis and Ashley Bartlett to put the Panthers up 4-1.
EIU added a late run in the top of the seventh on Mitchell's solo home run to centerfield before the Bucs' bats woke up in the bottom of the frame.
CSU battled for three runs in the bottom of the seventh to nearly bring the game back against EIU. Emberson drew a one-out walk to spark the rally. Gandara followed reaching on a fielding error and Mallory Kasinger loaded the bases with single up the middle chasing reliever Valerie Thompson.
Sarah Brown greeted reliever Wireman by drawing four consecutive pitches for the bases-loaded walk to put CSU's second run of the game across. Wireman uncorked a pitch to the backstop facing Del Rio allowing Kasinger to score on the wild pitch. The relay back to the pitcher went back to the circle allowing Brown to touch home on the play as well and cut the EIU lead down to 5-4. Wireman recovered to get Del Rio swinging for the final out to end the contest.
News & Notes
- Caitlyn Emberson reached base in all four plate appearances against the Panthers. The junior catcher recorded a single in the first inning, walks in the third and seventh, and was hit by a pitch in the fifth.
- The Bucs' eight walks were a season-high with six different players drawing free passes against EIU. The eight walks surpass the seven the Bucs drew against St. Bonaventure on February 25.
- CSU falls to 14-4 at home in 2018 this season. The loss to EIU snaps a nine-game home winning streak.
Charleston Southern opens Big South play this weekend with a three-game series at Winthrop starting on Friday night at 6 p.m. Saturday's doubleheader in Rock Hill, S.C. at Terry Field is set to start at 1 p.m.