CHARLESTON, S.C. - Charleston Southern scored three runs on five hits with two outs in the eighth inning Friday afternoon to come from behind to top Gardner-Webb, 4-3, in the opener of a three-game Big South series.
The Runnin' Bulldogs (18-17, 3-7 Big South) jumped out to an early 3-0 lead, with Scott Coleman leading off the second inning with a solo home run. Ryan Hodge singled and eventually stole home to push the lead to 2-0 in the top of the third, and Coleman drove home the Bulldogs' third run with a single up the middle in that same inning for a 3-0 lead.
Charleston Southern (13-23, 5-5 Big South) plated one run in the fourth to pull within 3-1 before mounting its big rally with two outs in the bottom of the eighth.
Designated hitter Walt Quattlebaum belted a solo home run with two strikes and two outs in the eighth to left center, chasing reliever Mitch Warner from the game. Relief ace Jeff Howell entered, but was greeted by back-to-back singles by Nick Berry and Blake Hunt as the Buccaneers got the go-ahead run on base.
The 'Dogs went to closer Adam Izokovic from there, but saw Robbie Street reach on an infield single to load the bases. Leadoff hitter Bobby Ison then singled a 3-2 pitch up the middle to drive in a pair to give the Buccaneers their first lead of the game at 4-3. Jaren Sustar drew a walk to load the bases again, but Izokovic coaxed a ground ball to end any further damage.
Gardner-Webb worked the bases loaded with one out in the top of the ninth, getting singles from Scott Johnson and Hodge to get started. John Harris was hit by a pitch to move pinch runner Ryan Allen just 90 feet from home plate - but the game ended when Dusty Quattlebaum's fly ball to center was caught, and Allen was called out at the plate trying to score on the tag up.
Howell (1-3) took the loss in relief, allowing two hits and facing two batters in the eighth. Gardner-Webb had nine hits in the game, with Hodge staying red hot at the plate by going 3-for-4 with a pair of stolen bases. Coleman (2-for-4) and Brad Collins (2-for-4) also had multi-hit days.
Hodge (Charlotte, N.C. / Butler HS) extended his hitting streak to 15 games and is batting a robust .517 (29-of-56) during that stretch.
Gardner-Webb stranded 10 runners and were the victims of two double plays.
Starter Matt Fraudin was strong again in his fourth consecutive league start, allowing just one run on four hits in 5.0 innings of a no decision.
Denis Buckley (1-0) got a relief win for Charleston Southern, working 2.0 scoreless frames and scattering three hits. Zach Hagaman worked the final two batters to collect his first save of the season, benefitting from the game-ending double play.
Charleston Southern collected 13 hits, including 12 singles. Ison (3-for-4, 2 RBI) and Quattlebaum (2-for-3, HR, RBI) paced the starting lineup for CSU, with Streett coming off the bench to go 2-for-2.
The two teams will meet again Saturday at 2:00 pm in the second game of the series at CSU Ballpark.