CHARLESTON, S.C. - All the Buccaneers needed was a home game.
Charleston Southern jumped to a 5-0 lead and starter Ryan Gunther held UNC Asheville to two runs through eight innings of work as the Bucs won their Big South home opener, 6-2, on Friday afternoon at CSU Ballpark.
The Bucs improved to 9-16 overall and 1-3 in Big South play. All nine of CSU's wins are at home this season.
Asheville falls to 8-18 on the year and 1-6 in league play. The two teams will play a doubleheader on Saturday at 11:30 a.m.
The Bucs, who had been struggling to score early in games, raced to a 5-0 lead after two innings. A two-run home run by Zack Hagaman in the first spark the fast start and the Bucs' rode Gunther the rest of the way.
"We talked so much about coming out against a quality Big South team which has had a lot of hard luck, just like we have," CSU head coach Start Lake said following the win. "We came out and wanted to get on the board early. That was a big hit by Zack (Hagaman) that got us going."
Gunther (WP, 3-3) allowed just four hits in eight innings of work, striking out six and matching the Bucs' longest outing by a pitcher this year.
"(Gunther) was so solid for us today," Lake said. "He let us relax a little bit. You hate to take him out because he could've finished it, but his pitch count began to get a little high."
CSU raced to an early lead behind Hagaman's second home run of the season. The junior belted the second pitch he saw from Asheville starter Dean Roland out to right field to score Bobby Ison and give the Bucs a 2-0 lead. Ison reached on a single earlier in the inning.
The Bucs added three runs in the second to build their lead out to 5-0.
CSU took advantage of getting leadoff man Brian Welch on base on a throwing error by the Bulldogs, then piled up two-out hits. Catcher Drew Woodall started the scoring with an RBI double to right center to score Welch. Second baseman Kevin
Hickey followed with an RBI single and Ison roped double into the corner in right to keep the Bucs offense rolling.
Asheville finally broke through against Bucs' starter Ryan Gunther in the fourth. Bulldog catcher Ian Graham belted a solo home run to left, his second of the season, for UNCA's first hit of the day.
CSU added an insurance run in the seventh as Kevin Hickey singled and moved up on Ison single, his third hit of the afternoon. Hickey then scored on a wild pitch to give CSU a 6-1 lead at the time.
Freshman Andrew Tomasovich came on to pitch the ninth for the Bucs as CSU closed out its first Big South win of the year.
Ison led the Bucs with a 3-for-4 day. He had a double, an RBI, and a run scored. Hickey, batting in the leadoff spot, was 2-for-4 with an RBI and two runs scored. Chase Shelton also had two hits for the Buccaneers.
Roland (LP, 0-6) took the loss for the Bulldogs. First baseman Bill Creighton led the Bulldogs with two hits.