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No. 19 Coastal Carolina Rallies in Ninth for 12-9 Victory over Liberty
The setback snaps the Flames' five-game winning streak and drops Liberty to 9-5 in the Big South and 28-17 overall, while Coastal Carolina improves to 12-2 in conference play and 35-9 overall. The Flames are currently tied for third in the Big South standings with High Point.
Liberty opened the contest by having its first three batters reach to load the bases. Tim Nanry (Sr., DH, Rochester, N.Y.) made it four straight by lacing a liner down the left field line to plate two runners for a quick 2-0 Liberty advantage. After the next batter was retired for an out, Phil John (Sr., RF, Linwood, N.J.) lifted a sacrifice fly to left to score the Flames' third run of the first frame.
In the bottom of the inning, the homestanding Chanticleers tried to answer back, loading the bases with one out. The next batter, Matt Rademacher, then grounded deep into the hole between the shortstop and third baseman. Liberty shortstop Patrick Gaillard (Sr., SS, Taylors, S.C.) backhanded the ball and threw out the designated hitter on an excellent defensive play, allowing only one run to score. Flames pitcher David Stokes (Jr., RHP, Locust Grove, Okla.) struck out the next Coastal Carolina hitter to prevent further damage.
The Chanticleers struck for a two-out run in the second to narrow the Liberty advantage to 3-2. Adam Vrable singled to left and moved to second base on an errant throw on a pickoff attempt. David Sappelt followed with a liner over the head of the center fielder for a double to plate Vrable.
In the third, the Chanticleers knotted the game. First baseman Chris Raber doubled to the right centerfield gap and Tommy Baldridge was hit by a pitch to open the inning. After both runners advanced into scoring position on a sacrifice bunt, Doc Doyle lifted a sacrifice fly to center field to bring home Raber and tie the game at 3-3.
The two squads exchanged runs in the fourth. With one out, Aaron Grijalva (R-Jr., 1B, Redlands, Calif.) smoked a liner past the third base bag for a double. Two batters later, Errol Hollinger (So., C, Upland, Calif.) kept the inning alive with a high chopper over the pitcher's head into no-man's land between the mound and second base for an infield hit. Kenneth Negron (So., 2B, Kingwood, Texas) followed with a sharp single back through the box on an 0-2 count to score Grijalva. Coastal Carolina left fielder Sappelt hit his seventh home run in the bottom of the frame to deadlock the contest again at four apiece.
Having scored in each of the first four innings, the Chanticleers made it five straight innings, plating three runs on three hits and two Liberty miscues to take their first lead of the afternoon. Coastal Carolina had the first three batters in the frame reach to load the bases. Doyle singled home the first run of the frame to give the Chanticleers their first lead of the game, 5-4. After a pitching change by the Flames, Derek Martin's ground ball chased home another run for a 6-4 advantage and a fielding error by the Liberty first baseman allowed the home team to make it, 7-4.
The Flames answered back in the their half of the sixth. David Giammaresi (R-Jr., 3B, Coral Springs, Fla.) walked with two outs. For the second time in the game, Hollinger kept the inning alive with a single to left. Negron followed with a liner into the right field gap which glanced off the right fielder's glove to cash in both runners. When the ball rolled all the way to the wall, the Liberty second baseman was waved home and scored standing for an inside the park home run. Negron's first home run of the season knotted the back-and-forth contest at 7-7.
In the seventh, the Flames struck for a pair of two-out runs to go out front again in the contest, 9-7. With one out, Nanry singled and Gaillard walked. After the next hitter flied out, Grijalva hit a hard liner at second the baseman which went off his glove for an error, allowing Nanry to come home with the go ahead run. Giammaresi followed by banging a single into left to chase home Gaillard and give the Flames a two-run edge.
Coastal Carolina pinch hitter David Anderson tied the game in the home half of the ninth with a two-run home run. It was Anderson's 10th of the season. Sappelt followed with a double to put the winning run in scoring position with no one out. However, Liberty was able to retire the next two batters. After an intentional walk was issued, Rademacher drove a ball over the left field wall for a walk-off, three-run home run and the Chanticleer victory.
Tyler Light (So., RHP, San Bernardino, Calif.) took the loss, allowing five runs on five hits over 4 2/3 innings of relief. The right-hander falls to 4-4 on the season. Nick McCully, the third Chanticleer pitcher of the afternoon, picked up the victory to run his mark to 4-2.
Negron, Nanry and Hollinger had two hits apiece for the Flames. Sappelt went 5-for-6 to pace Coastal Carolina.
Liberty and Coastal Carolina will meet in the rubber game of their Big South three-game series, Sunday afternoon at Charles Watson Stadium. Game time is scheduled for 1 p.m.