Sbardella, Matthews homer in split with George Mason and UNCG

Sbardella, Matthews homer in split with George Mason and UNCG

CHARLESTON, S.C. - Charleston Southern closed out their opening weekend tournament winning the opener against George Mason, before falling to a late rally by UNC Greensboro in earning a split on Saturday.

The Buccaneers move to 1-2 overall on the season, while George Mason finishes the day with a 1-2 record and UNC Greensboro sits at 2-0.

Stephanie Sbardella and Jana Matthews provided the bats for the Lady Bucs on the day with each picking up their first home runs of the season. Sbardella finished the day 5-for-6 from the plate with a double, home runs and three RBI, while Matthews drove in three runs with her 26th career home run in the top of the first inning against UNC Greensboro.

Charleston Southern makes their first road trip of the 2013 season as the Buccaneers take on local rival College of Charleston on Wednesday afternoon for a doubleheader. First pitch at the Patriots Point Athletics Complex between the Bucs and the Cougars is set for 3 p.m.

Game One: Charleston Southern 6, George Mason 4 (Box Score)

Stephanie Sbardella went 3-for-3 with a home run and 3 RBI as the Lady Bucs overcame a 4-2 hold in recording the come-from-behind 6-4 victory to split the weekend series with visiting George Mason.

Linzy Rother (1-0) recorded her first win of the season, pitching 4.2 innings of one-hit relief and added a single at the plate. Stephanie Maher (0-1) took the loss in relief for the Patriots, allowing three runs over the final three innings in the loss.

The Patriots pushed across two runs in the top of the first to jump ahead early in the game as Tiffany Webb reached first on a bunt single and stole second base. A throwing error on Lauren McColgan's bunt attempt resulted in Webb scoring on the play, while McColgan ended up on third base. After Holdworth retired Brooke Blankenship on strikes, Megan Blank hit a fly ball in foul territory down the left field line, deep enough to score McColgan to put Mason up 2-0.

The teams traded scoreless frames until the bottom of the second as Sbardella worked a 3-2 count off Patriots' starter Sarah Kleinfelter before doubling down the left field line to open up the inning. Back-to-back outs left CSU with two down and a runner in scoring position, but Holdsworth helped her own cause, driving in pinch runner Courtney Konyk with a bouncing single up the middle to cut into the GMU lead.

The Patriots responded with two more runs in the top of the third as Blankenship followed a McColgan walk with a double to the fence in left centerfield, driving in McColgan for the first run of the inning. Blank followed with an RBI single up the middle, driving in Blankenship to give the Patriots a commanding 4-1 lead.

Relief pitcher Linzy Rother retired the final two batters to end the frame and the GMU scoring threat.

Charleston Southern got one back in the bottom of the frame as Sbardella continued to have the hot bat on the day. Trea Steele reached on a two-out walk and advanced to second on a fielding error on Marci Christian's grounder. Sbardella followed with a single through the left side of the infield, scoring Steele to pull CSU within two at 4-2 after three innings.

The Lady Bucs continued to chip away in the fourth as Hannah Wagner drove in Natalie Yonan with a sacrifice fly down the left field line, cutting the Patriots lead down to one.

In the fifth, with two out and Steele on first, Sbardella worked a 2-2 count before driving a fastball off relief pitcher Stephanie Marer over the fence in left centerfield for her first home run of the season, scoring Steele in giving CSU their first lead in the 2013 season.

Rother set the Patriots down in the sixth inning and CSU pushed across an insurance run in the bottom half of the frame as Jasmine Conley drew a two-out walk and Steele doubled to left center, giving the Buccaneers two runners in scoring position. Christian followed with a twisting line drove which spun away from the GMU infielders when it hit the dirt, reaching first and scoring Conley, but Steele was thrown out trying to score to give CSU the 6-4 lead heading into the final inning.

The Patriots placed a runner on in the top of the seventh as Cori Prince reached on an infield single, but Rother retired the side for her first win in the 2013 season as the Lady Bucs topped the Patriots, 6-4.

Game Two: UNC Greensboro 5, Charleston Southern 4 (Box Score)

Back-to-back home runs in the top of the seventh by Katelyn Bedwell and Lindsay Thomas helped visiting UNC Greensboro go undefeated on the day as Charleston Southern fell 5-4 to the visiting Spartans to close out their opening home series at the Charleston Southern tournament.

With CSU leading 4-1 in the top of the seventh, Bedwell connected on a 1-1 offering from CSU starter Jennifer Giles (0-2), driving the ball over the fence in left field, scoring Chelsea Strandlund and Nicole Thomas to knot the score up. Two pitches later, Lindsay Thomas followed with her second home run of the tournament, driving the ball just over the fence in straightaway centerfield, skimming the top of the glove of the leaping CSU centerfielder to complete the come-from-behind victory.

Jana Matthews drove her 26th career home run over the fence down the left field line in the contest in the second inning. The blast brings Matthews within one of CSU career record holder Megan Lombard (2008-12).

Giles suffered her second loss of the season, going the distance with five strikeouts on the afternoon. Nicole Thomas (1-0) picked up the win for the Spartans, throwing two innings of two-hit relief.

After Giles retired the side in order in the top of the first, CSU opened the gates with a three-run inning, capped by Matthews' home run. Steele led off the winning with a walk and advanced to second on a single by Christian. Sbardella followed with her fourth hit of the day, driving a single through the left side of the infield, advancing the runners, but Steele was thrown out trying to score on the play. With two outs, Matthews connected on the first offering from UNCG starter Kelly Lupton, driving the ball over the left field fence to stake the Bucs to the early 3-0 lead.

Greensboro put their first crooked frame on the scoreboard in the top of the third as Heather Robb was hit by a pitch to open the frame. She advanced to second on a sacrifice bunt and stole third before scoring on Toni MacReynolds double to centerfield, putting the score at 3-1.

The margin remained the same until the bottom of the fifth as Yonan turned on a 1-2 pitch, driving the ball down the left field line for a two-out double. With Konyk on to run, Steel singled up the middle to put CSU up 4-1.

The Bucs threatened to put the game away in the bottom of the sixth inning, putting runners on first and second with one out, but Charleston Southern was unable to score, setting up for the Spartans' seventh inning heroics.