Long Ball; Late Heroics Clinch Series for CSU over UNC Asheville
CHARLESTON, S.C. – Charleston Southern is not for the faint of heart as they came from behind twice in the final two frames to clinch the opening series of the 2023 Big South campaign, topping UNC Asheville 11-10 after Bryce Brock’s single with the bases loaded in the ninth.
UNC Asheville (12-6, 0-2 Big South) was the aggressor in the early going, finding four runs in the first frame.Robbie Burnett’s triple down the right field line to score Ty Kaufman. A single from Dylan Bacot scored Burnett before Michael Groves’s sacrifice fly returned the favor to Bacot. Castonguay capped the frame off with a single to right to score Cameron Johnson.
Charleston Southern (10-10, 2-0 Big South) would have an answer in the same frame as Chandler Tuupo stayed hot with a single to left to bring Ike George around to score and put the Buccaneers on the board.
George would stay relevant throughout the contest as well, as his single in the fourth made it a one-run ballgame as he scored Sam Low and Ernesto Polanco to make things a one-run contest in the fourth.
The Bulldogs had two quick answers in the next two frames, both coming on just one swing as Groves and Kohl Abrams each had home runs. Grove’s shot was a two-run shot and Abrams shot came with the bases empty to put UNC Asheville up 7-3.
Charleston Southern would again answer the call in the latter frames, starting with the sixth. George’s name was called upon again as his groundball on the infield was enough to score Polanco before Kieran Davis’ single plated Rae for the second time in the game.
Insert Bryce Brock, as he came into the game as a pinch-hitter in the eighth and certainly made the most of it. His three-run shot over the right field wall to put Charleston Southern up for the first time in the contest. Things would only get interesting from there.
The Bulldogs were not done though, as they had a big ninth inning, retaking the lead. Bacot started the rally with a double to left to score Burnett before Johnson made noise with a two-run shot to take the 10-8 lead.
Another Charleston Southern answer ensued, though, as Nico Regino made a bang in his debut for the blue and gold. His two-run shot in the ninth with two strikes knotted the contest up at 10 to turn the tide. It was then Brock that put the exclamation on the game with the bases loaded, scoring Polanco to walk it off and clinch the series.
Kaleb Hill (3-1) gets the win for Charleston Southern after coming in the ninth. The middle relief of Evan Truitt and Dylan Matsuoka were great, combining for 7.1 innings of work and giving up just one earned run on six hits and six punchies.
Brett Johnson (L, 0-1) takes the loss after surrendering the final four baserunners that resulted in the game-winning run. Dawson Salter gave up five earned in over one inning of work, recording three outs while being replaced in the ninth. Ryan Douglas got the start for the Bulldogs, giving up three earned in four frames of work.
Charleston Southern wraps up the three-game set with UNC Asheville with the third and final installment. First pitch is slated for 1:00 p.m. at Nielsen Field.
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