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Coastal Edges Liberty, 5-3, in 11 Innings

March 28, 2008
|  Lynchburg, Va.
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Worthington Stadium hosts its first night game.

Worthington Stadium hosts its first night game.

Tommy Baldridge broke a 3-3 tie in the top of the 11th inning with a two-run single, pushing the 18th-ranked Coastal Carolina Chanticleers past the Liberty Flames, 5-3 in 11 innings, in the first night game in the history of Worthington Stadium, Friday night.

The historic contest drew a stadium record 3,183 fans to a tightly played contest in the Big South Conference opener for both squads.

Liberty falls to 11-11 on the year and 0-1 in the conference. Coastal Carolina, ranked as high as No. 18 in the nation in several collegiate baseball polls, improves to 20-5 and 1-0 in the Big South.

Before the raucous, record crowd, the Flames jumped out to an early 2-0 lead in their first at bat of the night. Errol Hollinger doubled into the right field corner with one out. P.K. Keller (Sr., RF, Clearwater, Fla.) followed with his third home run of the season over the right field wall, giving the Flames an early 2-0 advantage.

Liberty extended its lead to 3-0 in the home half of the third. Tim Rotola (Jr., CF, Wichita, Kan.) led off the inning with a double down the right field line. The center fielder moved to third on an error by Chanticleer shortstop Tyler Bortnick on a ground ball off Keller's bat. Rotola then scored, as the next hitter, David Giammaresi, lined a single to center field.

Coastal Carolina got on the scoreboard in the top of the fourth frame. Right fielder Baldridge hit his fifth home run of the season to cut the Liberty lead to 3-1.

In the fifth and sixth, the Chanticleers added a solo run in each inning. Center fielder David Sappelt reached on a fielding error by Cody Brown (Jr., 3B, Boca Raton, Fla.) to open the fifth frame and later scored on a fielding error by second baseman Kenneth Negron (Jr., 2B, Kingwood, Texas). Coastal Carolina knotted the contest at 3-3 in the sixth inning on a RBI sacrifice fly by Sappelt, plating left fielder Scott Woodward, who had doubled to open the frame.

Both teams would threaten over the next several innings without breaking through. Liberty put runners at first and third in the sixth, but relievers Cody Wheeler and Joey Haug were able to retire the next two Flames to end the threat. In the top of the ninth inning, Coastal Carolina's Adam Rice attempted to score on a single to left, but was thrown out at home by Liberty left fielder Joseph Feely (Fr., Chesapeake City, Md.).

After 1-2-3 frames for both teams in the 10th, the Chanticleers broke the deadlock with two runs on Baldridge's two-out, bases loaded single in the 11th. Haug retired in the Flames in order in the bottom of the inning to seal the Coastal Carolina victory.

Liberty starter David Stokes (Sr., RHP, Locust Grove, Okla.) gave up three runs, two earned, on seven hits over six innings. Dustin Umberger (Jr., RHP, Hummelstown, Pa.) drops to 3-3 on the season, allowing two unearned runs on five hits in five frames of work. Haug, the third pitcher of the night for Coastal Carolina, threw 5 1/3 innings of scoreless relief to run his mark to 3-0 on the year.

Giammaresi paced the Flames with three hits on the evening, while Hollinger added two hits for Liberty. Three Chanticleers had three hits each in the contest, led by Baldridge, who totaled three RBIs in the contest.

Coastal Carolina and Liberty square off again in the middle contest of their three-game Big South opening series tomorrow. First pitch is scheduled for 4 p.m.