Bucs rally past Asheville

ASHEVILLE, N.C. - Charleston Southern shut out UNC Asheville over the final eight innings to rally for a 6-3 win over the Bulldogs on a cold, wet Friday night at Greenwood Field.

Charleston Southern has now won five of six and moves back above .500 on the season at 21-20. CSU also moves to 6-11 in Big South play. Asheville fell to 11-28 overall and 4-13 in league play.

After giving up three runs in the first, CSU starter Levi Mauldin (4-2) settled in to work into the seventh inning. He struck out five in pitching through a steady rain throughout. He retired eight straight Bulldogs at one point.

"Levi showed maturity after getting hit a little bit in the first inning," CSU head coach Stuart Lake said following the win. "He got through the first, minimized the damage somewhat, and then really looked in control. Then (Jordan) Smith comes in and does what I thought was a fantastic job before Joe (Pistacchio) closes it out. All of those guys pitched well in tough conditions."

Relievers Jordan Smith and Joe Pistacchio came on to retire the final seven batters as the Bucs controlled the game after the first inning.

The Bucs took a two-run lead with three runs in the seventh to seize the lead in a game they seemed to control, but didn't lead until late. Bobby Ison tied the game with a single right back up the box to score Kevin Hickey. Andrew Widell followed with a sacrifice fly and Alex Tomasovich laced a double into the gap in left center as CSU took a 5-3 lead.

"You worried it was going to be one of those games," Lake said. "We hit four or five balls on the screws for outs, but then finally got it going."

Tomasovich was 3-for-5 with an RBI and a run scored, but he was also a big reason the Bucs didn't allow a run after the first. The third baseman robbed Asheville of at least two base hits with diving stops in the hole.

"I can't count the number of plays he made at third tonight," Lake said. "He was the difference in the game tonight with the way he played defensively."

CSU took a 1-0 lead in the first when Widell singled to right and came around to score on a double by Chase Shelton to centerfield.

Asheville answered back in the bottom half to take a 3-1 lead. Tommy Houmard and Eli Miller had RBI doubles off of Mauldin, and Hunter Bryant added an RBI groundout as the Bulldogs jumped on the Buccaneers early.

The Bucs cut the lead to one in the second as Ison's sacrifice fly plated Cody Austin to make it 3-2.

CSU added an insurance run in the eighth when Zack Hagaman was hit by a pitch and scored on a double by Sam Remick into the right-field corner.

Ison finished 1-for-4, but drove in two of CSU's first three runs and scored once.

Miller finished 2-for-4 for Asheville.

The two teams play the final game of the series at 2 p.m. Saturday at Greenwood Field.