Singleton propels Bucs to opening-day win

Charleston Southern outfielders Sly Edwards (left), Chris Singleton (right) and Brandon Burriss (back) celebrate the Bucs’ 4-3 win over West Virginia on Friday. (CSU photo)

Chris Singleton pointed skyward after one of his two hits on college baseball’s opening day. His mother, he knew, would have been proud.

“I can imagine if she had been here, she would have been screaming the whole game because I played well and we won,” Singleton said after driving in three runs to spark Charleston Southern’s 4-3 win over West Virginia on Friday at Riley Park. “We played well today. We competed and got a big win to start the season. I’m just happy for this team.”

Singleton’s first college game since his mother, Sharonda Coleman-Singleton, was killed at the Emanuel AME Church shooting last June was yet another inspiring moment for the CSU sophomore.

Earlier this week, Singleton acknowledged feeling increased pressure this season due to the attention his story has gained over the last eight months, and he struck out in his first at-bat on Friday.

But with two runners on and CSU trailing by 1-0 in the fourth inning, Singleton smacked a two-run double to the fence in left field, good for a 2-1 lead.

He added a run-scoring single in the eighth, and Nate Blanchard hit a solo home run in the same inning for a 4-1 edge.

Starting CSU pitcher Evan Raynor allowed one earned run over six innings to earn the victory. Chayce Hubbard gave up two runs in the ninth, but got the save as the Bucs knocked off a Big 12 foe led by former CSU coach Randy Mazey.

“It’s a good start. I’m just proud,” said CSU coach Stuart Lake. “We gave out two game balls, one to Evan Raynor. He started last year in the worst conditions (at WVU) you could imagine and bounced back against them with a great start today.

“Also, Chris Singleton. Just as a baseball fan, how can you not enjoy that? As a coach, as a dad, I’m proud of him. What a special moment and the toughness he has showed through everything ... not just him, this team. Even there in the ninth inning, we had to show we were tough.”

Singleton called it a “big game” for the team, not just himself.

“Playing West Virginia, a major D-I school, we knew this would be a challenge,” he said. “I tried to tell myself that this game was any different than any other game and just focus on playing my best. I’m just happy we got the win.”

The Bucs are playing their opening series against West Virginia at Riley Park due to wet conditions at CSU Ballpark. The teams meet again at 11 a.m. Saturday and 10 a.m. Sunday.