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No. 5 Seed Liberty Advances to Title Contest with 8-0 Win over No. 2 Seed Coastal Carolina
|Blake Fulghum pitched a complete-games shutout to help advance Liberty to Big South title game, Friday.|
Blake Fulghum pitched a complete-game shutout, leading the No. 5 seed Liberty Flames past the No. 2 seed Coastal Carolina Chanticleers, 8-0, in Game 13 of the Big South Baseball Championship at Liberty Baseball Stadium, Friday.
With the win, Liberty advances to the title contest against the No. 1 seed Campbell, tomorrow afternoon at 4 p.m. The contest will be televised on ESPN3.
Making his first start since March 19, Fulghum went the full seven innings, scattering seven hits and running his record to 2-1 on the year. Due to the Flames' win earlier in the day, the Big South Conference's if necessary game is a predetermined seven-inning contest. The left-hander struck out three batters and worked around five walks to record his first shutout in Liberty uniform. It is the first time since April 3, 2012 in a 3-0 loss at the Citadel.
Liberty moves to 33-27 and plays Campbell tomorrow in the Big South's winner-take-all title game. The winner receives the conference's automatic bid to the NCAA Regionals. Coastal Carolina drops to 37-20 and is eliminated from the tournament.
Coastal Carolina, the home team due to being the higher seed, loaded the bases in the bottom of the first inning, but came up empty. Designated hitter Ted Blackman singled and moved to second on a bunt-base hit by center fielder Jacob May. Two batters later, left fielder Alex Buccilli walked to fill the bases with Chanticleers. But, Fulghum retired the next two batters to end the threat.
Liberty struck for five runs in the top of the fourth to take an advantage. Center fielder Ryan Cordell walked to lead off the inning and stole second. Catcher Trey Wimmer followed with a single to left-center field, plating Cordell for a 1-0 edge. Designated hitter Danny Grauer then walked and along with Wimmer moved into scoring position on a sacrifice bunt by second baseman Bryan Aanderud.
Two batters later, Close lined a single into left field, scoring both runners to build a 3-0 advantage. Britt followed by depositing his first home run of the season in the right field bullpen for a 5-0 lead.
Liberty added to advantage in the top of the sixth, striking for a run with two outs. Wimmer walked and advanced to third on a single by Grauer. Aanderud followed with single through the right side of the infield to give the Flames a 6-0 lead.
In the sixth, Liberty put the contest out of reach with an additional insurance run. Close singled to lead off the inning and advanced to second on a single by Britt. After both runners moved into scoring position on a sacrifice bunt by third baseman Jake Kimble, right fielder Ashton Perritt lifted a sacrifice fly to score Close for 7-0.
Coastal Carolina once again threatened in the bottom of the sixth, only to be turned away by Fulghum. The Chanticleers put runners on the corners with one out on singles by Buccilli and third baseman Zach Remillard. However, Fulghum retired the next two batters to keep the shutout in tack.
The Flames pushed the final run of the game across in the top of the seventh. With Grauer on second, left fielder Justin Sizemore lined a run-scoring to center field for what proved to be the final score of 8-0.
Coastal Carolina senior starter Ryan Connolly, making his first start of his career, drops to 6-4. He was roughed up for five runs on four hits over 3 2/3 innings. The first of three Chanticleer pitchers, he struck out two and walked three batters.
Liberty collected 10 hits in the seven-inning contest. Grauer joined Britt and Close with two hits each. Blackman and Buccilli each had two hits apiece for Coastal Carolina.
The Liberty victory keeps the Chanticleers out of the Big South title game for the first time in seven years.