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Chanticleers Halt Flames' Win Streak
The No. 4-ranked Coastal Carolina Chanticleers snapped Liberty's eight-game winning streak, with a 5-2 victory over the Flames, Friday night in the first game of a three-game Big South series at Worthington Stadium.
Liberty falls to 18-4 in the Big South and 37-13 overall. The loss snaps a program-record 15-game conference winning streak for the Flames. Big South-leading Coastal Carolina moves to 21-0 in conference play and 43-6 overall. The Chanticleers have won 31-straight Big South contests, dating back to last season.
Leadoff hitter Rico Noel gave Coastal Carolina a 1-0 advantage in the opening inning. The center fielder connected for his eighth home run of the year, opening the contest. It was the third time this season Noel has led off a game with a round tripper.
The visiting Chanticleers upped their lead to 2-0 with a run in the second. Right fielder Daniel Bowman began the inning with a single up the middle and moved to second on a bunt single by shortstop Taylor Motter. Two batters later, designated hitter Josh Conway singled to left field, plating Bowman.
Coastal Carolina went on to load the bases with one out in the inning. However, Liberty left-hander Steven Evans was able to retire the next two Chanticleer batters to end the frame, without further damage.
After a 25-minute lightning delay in the bottom of the third inning, both Evans and Coastal Carolina starter Anthony Meo pitched scoreless frames until the top of the fifth. With catcher Jose Iglesias on base after leading off the inning with a walk, second baseman Tommy La Stellla hit his 10th home run of the season over the right field wall, upping the Chanticleers' lead to 4-0.
Coastal Carolina added another run in the eighth. With two outs, Conway singled and stole second base. After an intentional walk to Noel, third baseman Scott Woodward singled off the glove of Liberty first baseman Trey Wimmer, bringing home Conway for a 5-0 advantage.
Liberty broke up the shutout and sliced into the visitor's lead in the home half of the inning. Negron opened the frame with the first Flames hit since the fourth inning, singling up the middle. Two batters later, shortstop Matt Williams lined a double into the left-center field gap, scoring Negron to make it, 5-1. Third baseman Tyler Bream followed with a single to put runners at the corners for catcher Nathan Thompson, who greeted reliever Ryan Connolly to the contest by ripping a double down the right field line to plate Williams, cutting the Chanticleer advantage to 5-2.
Austin Fleet came on in the ninth and retired the Flames in order, sealing the Coastal Carolina win.
Evans falls to 7-2 on the year, taking his first setback since March 27. The left-hander, the first of four Flames to take the mound in the contest, allowed four runs on nine hits over 4 1/3 innings. He struck out three and walked three.
Meo, the Big South leader in wins and ERA, runs his record to 11-1 on the year. The right-hander gave up two runs on five hits over 7 2/3 innings. He struck out four and walked one. Fleet, the last of four pitchers for the Chanticleers, records his seventh save of the year.
Thompson had two hits to lead Liberty. Noel, La Stella, Motter and Conway each had two hits for Coastal Carolina.
The Chanticleers and the Flames will meet in the middle contest of the three-game series tomorrow evening at Worthington Stadium. Game time is scheduled for 7 p.m.