Charleston Southern Buccaneers scored 17 unanswered runs to rally from a sluggish start and beat Eastern Kentucky in their season opener on Friday afternoon at CSU Ballpark, 17-4.
CSU had five players with multi-hit games and combined to score 11 runs in the sixth and seventh innings, rallying from a 4-0 deficit through four innings. CSU was hitless through three innings before breaking through against Colonel's starter Anthony Bassani (LP, 0-1) for an infield single.
The hits and runs, with some help from a jittery EKU defense, seemed to just come in waves the rest of the way.
"I felt like it was commitment to what we've been working on in the offseason," CSU head coach Stuart Lake said following the win. "Once we got a few bunts down and started to execute, it just seemed to be contagious, and (the hits) just seemed like they kept coming."
Reliever Tory Schroff (WP, 1-0) was a big reason the offense could relax. Schroff, making his first appearance Buc shutdown the Colonel offense after CSU cut the lead to 4-2. He pitched three innings of hitless ball and allowed only two walks, erasing one runner with a pick off.
"He was the difference maker, no question," Lake said of Schroff."Once he caught his breath, he got a big pick off and he did what we were hoping he could do when we brought him to CSU."
The Bucs rattled off their most run in a game since scoring 18 runs in a win over Presbyterian in a 2011 win. The win gives Lake his first in season openers and momentum heading into two weekend games with the Colonels.
"I told our guys to enjoy this one for an hour," Lake said. "But this is a good team. We know they're a good team. This is a chance for us to learn how to handle success, and show ourselves we can."
Saturday's first pitch has been moved to 1 p.m.
CSU trailed early as EKU opened the game with seven hits over the first three innings. Bucs' starter Ryan Gunther induced a pop out from Sean Hagan and struck out Kenny Hostrander with the bases loaded in the third to keep the damage from a three-run inning at a minimum.
EKU would help the Bucs' offense get going in the fourth as an error by shortstop Matt Phipps and confusion on a popup on the infield led to the Bucs cutting the lead to 4-2 on a pair of unearned runs. Left fielder John Faircloth had an RBI single to plate Bobby Ison to get the scoring started for CSU.
The Bucs cut the lead to one in the fifth as Zack Hagaman belted a solo home run into the trees in right to make to a 4-3 game.
The Bucs broke the game open in the sixth as Faircloth added his second hit of the day as part of a five-run frame. Bobby Ison delivered the big blow in the inning, lining a two-out, two-run single in to right field to give the Bucs an 8-4 lead.
CSU added six more runs in the seventh, five of which were unearned, to put the game out of reach. Alex Tomasovich had a perfect bunt single trying to move runners up to spark the big inning. Jaren Sustar added a another two-run single, also with two outs, and the Bucs scored a pair of runs on a wild pitch to build their lead to 15-4 at the time. Drew Woodall added a two-run single down the right field line.
EKU's Demetrius Moorer saved an even bigger inning for the Bucs with a diving catch on a Faircloth line drive that ended the inning.
Ison led the Bucs going 3-for-5 with three RBIs and two runs scored. Woodall added a 2-for-4 day with three RBIs and two runs scored.
Third Baseman Bryan Soloman was 2-for-4 with an RBI and a run scored.
The two teams play again on Saturday at 1 p.m.