CHARLESTON, S.C. - Charleston Southern starter Kevin Buran struck out a career-high nine and the Bucs came through with a barrage of two-out RBIs to beat VMI, 7-4, on Sunday afternoon at CSU Ballpark.
The win also gives the Bucs the series win in Big South action as CSU improves to 14-22. VMI falls to 18-21 overall. Both teams are 5-7 in Big South play.
Buran (WP, 2-6) came up one strikeout shy of teammate Ryan Gunther's season-high of 10 Ks, which he set on Saturday in a win over the Keydets. He gave up a double to open the game as VMI took a 1-0 lead, but settled in to allow just one run and three hits until the eighth. He didn't surrender a hit over a five-inning stretch.
"Kevin Buran was outstanding today," CSU head coach Stuart Lake said after the win. "We were a little tired in our bullpen and he really picked us up. Austin Weekley came in a shut the door there at the end. That was big too."
The win gave the Bucs' their second Big South series win of the season and rallying to win the final two games of the weekend against a tough VMI team could go a long way toward a berth in the Big South Tournament next month.
"I think we led all but four innings in the series, but never got comfortable," Lake added. "You feel fortunate to win a series against a team that plays that hard. We didn't talk about it before the game, but our team knew this was a big game and one we had to have."
The Bucs outhit VMI, 12-8, and scored six of their seven runs with two outs. Senior Jaren Sustar was 3-for-4 with two RBIs, while Chase Shelton was 3-for-3 and had three RBIs. They carried the Bucs offense.
"That was exciting for us," Lake said. "We need our older guys to do well. Jaren got us going today and Chase had a lot of big hits too."
VMI jumped to a 1-0 lead in the first as Jordan Tarsovich led off with a double and scored on an RBI single by Rob Dickinson.
The Bucs finally broke through as Sustar and Shelton came up with big two-out swings. Sustar singled home Alex Tomasovich to tie the game at 1-1. Shelton followed by ripping a double into the gap in right center to score Brian Welch, who walked, and Sustar to make it 3-1 Bucs.
The two-out hits would keep coming as Zack Hagaman singled home Bobby Ison in the fifth to extend the lead for Buran to 4-1.
CSU would extend the lead to 7-1 with three runs in the sixth as Sustar added another RBI single and Kevin Hickey delivered a two-out, two-run single to right.
VMI came back with three runs in the eighth, finally getting to a tired Buran. Tarsovich had an RBI double and Dickinson added an RBI single, but Weekley came in to record the final four outs as the Bucs turned back the Keydets' rally.
Buran's nine strikeouts capped a weekend in which the Bucs' starters combined for 27 Ks in 22.2 innings of work.
Charleston Southern returns to action on Wednesday at Savannah State. First pitch is at 5 p.m.