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Big South preseason pitcher of the year shuts down Longwood in series opener

longwood athleticsRJ Petit made history for Charleston Southern when he was named the Big South Preseason Pitcher of the Year for a second straight season earlier this spring.

The big right-hander showcased why on Friday night at Nielsen Field at the CSU Ballpark. Petit blanked Longwood for his first complete game, going the distance as his team won 7-0 on the first night of conference play.

Petit (1-1) worked quickly and was nigh unhittable for Charleston Southern (1-3, 1-0 Big South) early. He didn’t allow a base runner until the fifth inning and four-hit Longwood (4-5, 0-1 Big South) to earn the win. The sophomore struck out a career best six to no walks in his nine inning of work.

“You have to tip your cap,” said Longwood seventh-year head coach Ryan Mau. “Petit lived up to the hype tonight, and we couldn’t get much going offensively. Defensively, we made plays, but they landed a couple big extra base hits that were tough to overcome.”

The bottom of the Charleston Southern order led the charge on offense, as the Bucs did the bulk of their damage in the third, fourth and fifth innings. In each half, they scored twice. Dylan Stewart went 2-3 at plate for his first two collegiate hits, and both were triples that combined to drive in three runs. Houston Parker went 2-4 as well with a pair of RBI, and Charleston Southern had five of their 11 hits go for extra bases.

For the Lancers, they put runners on base from the fifth to eighth innings, but each time Petit proved equal to the task. One of their best chances to score came in the fifth after Ricky Jimenez was hit by a pitch and Andrew Gorham poked a single to left with one out. Petit shut it down and retired the next two batters to escape the jam.

In the sixth, Jack Schnell beat out an infield single, and Justin Looney blooped a single to right in the seventh for Longwood. Michael Peterson was hit and Cullan Wadsworth tapped a single in the eighth with two outs, but again Petit wiggled out of it by getting a groundout.

Dominick D’Ercole (0-2) took the loss for Longwood. The freshman right-hander struck out four in five innings while giving up six runs on nine hits and two walks. Sean Gibbons came on in the sixth and threw well in relief for the Lancers, striking out a pair in two innings. He gave up one run on two hits in the seventh.

“We still have a great opportunity to win a road series and have a lot of baseball ahead of us tomorrow,” Mau said.

The two teams will play the final two games of the series tomorrow in a doubleheader. First pitch of the first game is set for noon, with Longwood sending sophomore left-hander Andrew Melnyk to the mound to face off with right-hander Krishna Raj for Charleston Southern. Both games of the doubleheader will be on ESPN+.


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