A dropped fly ball with two outs in the bottom of the ninth allowed Kyle Vesnesky to score from second as Charleston Southern walked off with the 4-3 win over visiting Radford on Friday night at the CSU Ballpark.
The Buccaneers (18-20, 7-9) rallied with two outs in the ninth inning as Vesnesky reached on throwing error by Radford shortstop Danny Hrbek. Cole German singled up the middle to put two on against RU reliever Kyle Zurak (3-2) and kept the CSU rally alive.
Zurak was able to get Alex Andronica to popup to shallow right field on the 1-0 offering. However, the ball bounced off of Radford (16-21, 6-7) second baseman Kyle Butler's glove allowing Vesnesky to score the game-winning run on the play and set off the CSU celebration on the field.
Cody Smith (2-1) recorded the win for the Bucs going the final 0.2 innings and retired the side in the ninth to keep the Highlanders off the board. Nik Constantakos went the first four innings in the start allowing four hits and three runs while striking out five. Daniel Johnson was effective in relief again with the CSU junior left-hander going four innings and allowing two hits while striking out five. Eddie Hiott picked up a key strikeout in the ninth inning against his only batter.
Cole German went 3-for-4 from the plate and connected on his fifth home run of the season in the bottom of the fifth inning to spark the CSU comeback. Nate Blanchard added his team-leading sixth home run to lead off the game for the Bucs' lineup. Mike Sconzo added a double and a run scored.
Zurak suffered the loss after going the final two innings of the contest. The Radford right-hander allowed one hit and an unearned run while striking out three. RU starter Zack Ridgely went the first seven innings and kept the Bucs' bats at bay for most of the game allowing seven hits and three runs while striking out nine in 6.2 innings.
Spencer Horwitz led the Highlanders from the plate with home runs in each of his first two at-bats and finished with three RBI.
CSU took the early lead in the bottom of the first as Blanchard connected on his team-leading sixth home run of the season off the first pitch from Ridgely. The ball cleared the right field fence and gave the Bucs the early 1-0 advantage.
Horwitz answered with a solo home run off the first pitch from Constantakos in the top of the second to even the score. Two innings later, he connected on a two-run shot down the right field line scoring Jonathan Gonzalez to give RU the 3-1 lead.
German put the Bucs on the board in the bottom of the fifth with a solo home run to lead off the fifth.
The Bucs took advantage of the first Radford error in the bottom of the seventh following Sconzo's leadoff double. Vesnesky's soft grounder to third led to a hurried throw that skipped past the RU first baseman allowing Sconzo to score on the play and tied the contest up at 3-3. Ridgely and Zurek pitched the Highlanders out of the frame with back-to-back strikeouts.
The teams traded zeroes in the eighth inning before Johnson turned the ball over to Hiott in the ninth. Hiott retired Horwitz on strikes for the first out in the frame before Smith entered and retired the next two batters to lead to the CSU at-bat.
Charleston Southern and Radford will continue the weekend series tomorrow afternoon at the CSU Ballpark. First pitch between the two teams is set for 4 p.m.
Charleston Southern is expected to start RHP Tyler Weekley (3-2, 3.77 ERA). Radford is expected to counter with RHP Danny Hrbek (2-3, 5.68 ERA).