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No. 2 Flames Fall in Championship Game

May 29, 2010  Rock Hill, S.C.  RSS
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Liberty first baseman Trey Wimmer records an out, Saturday. Wimmer hit a two-run home run in the contest.

Liberty first baseman Trey Wimmer records an out, Saturday. Wimmer hit a two-run home run in the contest.

The No. 1 seed Coastal Carolina Chanticleers defeated the No. 2 seed Liberty Flames, 8-2, to claim the Big South title, Saturday in Game 12 of the Big South Championship at the Winthrop Ballpark.

The Flames drop to 42-19, and will now await Monday's NCAA Tournament selection announcement to see if they are one of the 64 teams who will participate in an NCAA Regional, by being awarded an at-large selection. The tournament selections and its 16 regional pairings will be announced at 12:30 p.m. on ESPN. Liberty's 42 wins are the most in a season in program history.

Coastal Carolina wins its fourth consecutive Big South title, receiving the conference's automatic bid to the 2010 NCAA Tournament. With the win, the Chanticleers, ranked as high as No. 4 nationally, move to 51-7.

Liberty, the visiting team on the scoreboard for the first time in the tournament, jumped out to a 2-0 lead in the top of third inning. Left fielder Kenneth Negron doubled into the left-center gap to open the inning and wound up on third base, when left fielder Chance Gilmore misplayed the ball. First baseman Trey Wimmer followed by blasting his fourth home run of the year over the left field wall to give the Flames a lead.

Coastal Carolina answered in the bottom of the inning. Right fielder Daniel Bowman doubled and Gilmore reached on a bunt single to open the frame. With the runners at the corners, first baseman Rich Witten connected for his third home run of the season, a shot off the scoreboard in left-center field to put the Chanticleers in front, 3-2.

Center fielder Rico Noel made it four-straight Coastal Carolina batters to reach by dropping a single into right field. After the first out of the inning, Noel stole second and moved to third on a single by catcher Jose Iglesias. Noel then made it, 4-2, Chanticleers, scoring before the Flames could complete a double play by tagging the runner going into second base.

Coastal Carolina extended its lead in the fourth inning. Bowman, with designated hitter Adam Rice aboard after a leadoff walk, hit his 12th home run of the season for a 6-2 advantage.

In the top of the sixth, Liberty loaded the bases with two outs. Second baseman P.J. Jimenez singled and designated hitter Austin Taylor walked with one out. Two batters later, Negron beat out an infield single to fill the bases with two away. However, Chanticleer reliever Austin Fleet entered the game and got the next batter to fly out to end the inning.

Coastal Carolina upped its advantage to 8-2 in the bottom of the inning. With a runner aboard, Bowman connected for his second home run of the game, a liner over the center field wall. The round tripper was the right fielder's 13th home run of the year.

Liberty starter Dustin Umberger takes the loss to fall to 2-5 on the season. He allowed four runs in 2 1/3 innings pitched. The first of four Flames to pitch in the contest, Umberger struck out one batter.

Coastal Carolina reliever Austin Fleet, the last of four Chanticleer pitchers, picks up the win, running his record to 6-1. The right-hander pitched 3 1/3 scoreless innings, yielding two hits. He struck out one batter and walked one.

Wimmer had two hits and two RBIs, while Negron added two hits for the Flames, who had nine in the contest. Coastal Carolina's Bowman had three hits and drove in four runs.

Three Liberty players were named to the 2010 All-Tournament team. The team appears below:

OF: Daniel Bowman, Coastal Carolina (MVP)
OF: Chance Gilmore, Coastal Carolina
OF: Kenneth Negron, Liberty
INF: Tommy La Stella, Coastal Carolina
INF: Tyler Bream, Liberty
INF: Mike Mercurio, High Point
INF: Chas Crane, Winthrop
C: Eddie Rohan, Winthrop
DH: Pablo Rosario, High Point
UTL: Rich Witten, Coastal Carolina
P: Anthony Meo, Coastal Carolina
P: Steven Evans, Liberty