Kyle Dyson closed out his collegiate career with his best performance at Charleston Southern and Nate Blanchard and Brandon Gragilla sparked the Buccaneers' rally in the sixth inning as CSU closed out the 2017 regular season with a 4-3 win over visiting Air Force on Saturday afternoon.
The Bucs (22-29) recognized Dyson, Blanchard, and Gragilla prior to first pitch at the Ballpark, but once the first pitch was underway, the senior trio took over in their final game of their career in the CSU Blue and Gold. CSU rallied back from a three-run deficit by sending 10 batters to plate in the bottom of the sixth to take a lead they would not relinquish in the win.
Dyson (2-3) went 8.1 innings in the longest start of his collegiate career to pick up his second win of the season. The Hanahan, S.C. native scattered 14 singles and allowed three runs in 116 pitches, striking out five in the win. Daniel Johnson (S, 1) closed out the final two outs for his first save of the season.
Blanchard started the CSU rallied in the sixth with a leadoff single and scored the first run of the contest on Gragilla's two-run base hit in the frame. Kyle Vesnesky drew a bases-loaded walk to tie the game, while Jack Delongchamps brought home the game-winning run with a single up the middle to secure the CSU win.
Air Force (27-26) saw their season come to an end with a staff day on the mound as Ryan Holloway suffered the loss in relief. Tyler Mortenson went the first five innings in the start, allowing two hits and two walks while striking out six. Ashton Easley and Holloway both allowed two runs apiece in the losing effort.
Jason Miller reached in all four plate appearances on the day as Miller went 3-for-3 from the plate and drew a walk in his final game of the 2017 season.
Air Force took the 1-0 lead in the top of the third inning as the Falcons utilized a trio of singles to lead off the frame in taking the early advantage. Drew Wiss led off the frame with a base hit through the left side. Adam Groesbeck moved him over to second with a single through the left side of the infield. Tyler Jones brought Wiss home with a single back up the middle to give the Falcons the lead.
The Falcons added two more in the fourth on a Rob Dau two-run single down the left field line. Tyler Zabojnik led off the inning with a base hit up the middle and Daniel Jones drew a walk to put two on with none out. Shaun Mize dropped a sacrifice bunt down the third base line to advance both runners into scoring position before Dau connected on the two-run single down the line to give AFA the 3-0 lead.
CSU sent 10 batters to the plate in the bottom of the sixth inning to take the lead. Blanchard led off the inning with a base hit down the right field line. The Bucs loaded the bases as Chris Singleton and Jason Miller drew back-to-back walks before Gragilla connected on a two-run single to left field to pull CSU back within one run.
Mike Sconzo and Vesnesky kept the Bucs' rally alive with back-to-back walks with Miller scoring on Vesnesky's base-on-balls to even the game. Two batters later, Delongchamps drove a 2-2 pitch back up the middle scoring Gragilla to give the Bucs the 4-3 lead.
Dyson pitched around singles in both the seventh and eighth innings to keep the CSU lead intact and struck out Wiss to open the ninth inning as the redshirt senior continued the longest start by a Buccaneer pitcher in the 2017 season. However, he was unable to complete the effort as Adam Groesbeck and Tyler Jones connected on back-to-back singles to put the tying and go-ahead runs on base.
Johnson entered the contest and retired Nic Ready on strikes for the second out, and then was able to get Russell Williams to roll over a pitch and hit a grounder to Vesnesky to end the contest.