BUIES CREEK – Jake Kirkland's three-run homer in the eighth inning of Game 1 propelled Campbell to a 5-2 victory over Charleston Southern. The Fighting Camels then took a 6-2 decision in the rubber game to improve to 25-4 overall, 20-1 in the month of March for the best single month record in program history.
The wins also place CU in a tie for first place in the Big South at 5-1, with next weekend's conference series against fellow league-leading Liberty on the horizon. Charleston Southern drops to 9-20 overall, 2-4 in the Big South. Campbell returns to action on Tuesday evening, hosting the Duke Blue Devils at Taylor Field. First pitch is scheduled for 6 p.m.
Campbell used a solid effort from Frank Zier, who scattered eight hits and two runs over 7.2 innings of work, to rebound from Friday night's loss in the opener on Saturday. Zier struck out five batters and walked only one, securing his team-leading fifth quality start of the season.
Charleston Southern struck early, with Bobby Ison singling to lead off the game and Jaren Sustar being hit by a pitch to place the first two Bucs on base. After a flyout and a walk, John Faircloth singled to center to score Ison, but Ben McQuown's throw from centerfield cut down Sustar at the plate to keep the game a 1-0 CSU advantage. Zier settled down after the frame, retiring 12 consecutive batters from the second through the sixth innings.
The Fighting Camels evened the score in the third inning when McQuown scored on Kirkland's RBI single. It was the first of four RBI during the game for Kirkland, whose biggest hit came later in the contest.
Campbell tacked another run on in the fifth inning. Brent Graham led off the frame with a bunt single, was sacrificed to second base and then advanced to third on a groundout. Graham came to the plate on Michael Felton's RBI single through the left side to give the Camels a 2-1 lead after five innings. Felton was 2-for-3 in the game with an RBI and a run scored.
CSU rallied in the top of the eighth, bringing the leadoff man around to score after a single and a sacrifice bunt on Chase Shelton's two-out, RBI single through the left side. Ryan Mattes entered the game for Zier and got Brian Welch to strike out swinging, stranding two Buccaneers on base.
Charleston Southern starter Charlie McCready was also solid in his outing, allowing just six hits and two runs over his first seven innings of work. The left-hander ran into trouble in the bottom half of the eighth as McQuown doubled down the leftfield line to spark a Camel run. Felton was then intentionally walked to get to Kirkland, who responded with a three-run blast to dead centerfield that gave Campbell a 5-2 lead.
Mattes sat down the Buccaneers in order during the ninth to earn the victory, moving to 3-0 this season. Campbell improved to 8-2 this season when the opponent scored first.
Campbell broke open a 2-2 tie in the eighth inning for the second consecutive game during the series finale on Saturday evening, scoring four times in the frame to take a 6-2 series-clinching win.
The Fighting Camels took a 2-0 lead in the second inning, courtesy of Brent Graham's 2-RBI single that scored Nick Ray and David Olson. Olson had reached on a leadoff single to open the inning, part of his 2-for-3 game. Graham finished the game 2-for-4 with two RBI and one run scored.
Andrew Jacobsen started his first game of the season for the black and orange, scattering five hits over his first five innings of work before allowing two singles to lead off the sixth inning. Both runs came around to score and were charged to Jacobsen, who settled for a no decision during the outing in which he struck out three batters without allowing a walk.
Logan Self threw two innings of relief for the Camel pitching staff, allowing two hits and no runs while finishing with one strikeout and one walk. Matt Marksberry entered in the eighth inning and allowed no hits over the final two innings.
Campbell stacked four hits together in the bottom of the eighth, but put two runners on base via a walk and a hit by pitch with one out to open the spurt. Brent Graham then collected a bunt single to load the bases as the Camels look to push the go-ahead run to the plate.
A force out at home plate allowed the Buccaneers to get within one out of escaping the inning unscathed, but McQuown responded with a 2-RBI single that put CU in front for good. Following an infield single from Felton to again load the bases, two more runs scored on a throwing error to give the hosts a four-run lead headed to the ninth inning.
Marksberry struck out the side in the ninth, earning the win to improve his pitching record to 3-1 and closing out the Camel victory.