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Flames on Short End of Pitcher's Duel at Coastal Carolina
Despite a strong outing by Liberty pitcher Carson Herndon, the Coastal Carolina Chanticleers broke up a pitcher's duel with four runs in the eighth inning for a 5-1 win over the Flames in a Big South contest at TicketReturn.com Field at Pelicans Ballpark, Saturday.
Herndon battled Chanticleer starter Ben Smith through the first seven innings, only to wind up on the short end of the pitcher's duel. The right-hander falls to 3-3 on the year. He gave up two runs on two hits over 7 1/3 innings. He struck out one and walked three batters.
It is the second consecutive start that Herndon went past seven innings. Last weekend, the sophomore pitched the first complete game of his career in an 8-1 win over Longwood.
Liberty drops to 6-4 in Big South play and 17-13 overall. Coastal Carolina moves to 5-2 in conference action and 18-12 overall. The contest began a stretch of eight games in nine days against opponents with winning records for the Flames.
Coastal Carolina struck for the first run of the contest in the bottom of the game's opening inning without the benefit of a hit. Designated hitter Ted Blackman and center fielder Jacob May each walked to begin the home half of the first. After both runners advanced into scoring position on a sacrifice bunt by left fielder Alex Buccilli, catcher Will Remillard lifted a run-scoring sacrifice fly for a 1-0 advantage.
After allowing a run in the first inning, Herndon settled in and at one point, retired seven Chanticleer batters in a row. However, Coastal Carolina's Smith matched the Flames right-hander, yielding only two hits over the first five innings.
Liberty broke through for a run in the top of the sixth to tie the game. With one out, catcher Trey Wimmer walked and moved to second on a single by designated hitter Danny Grauer. Right fielder Nick Paxton followed with a grounder to second base, which the Chanticleers tried to turn into a double play. But shortstop Nick Oberg's throw to first base to complete the double play got away from Coastal Carolina first baseman Tyler Chadwick, allowing Wimmer to score and knot the game at 1-1.
In the bottom of the eighth, the Chanticleers plated four runs. Third baseman Zach Remillard walked to begin the frame and moved to second on a sacrifice bunt by the next batter Oberg. After a pitching change, Liberty reliever Josh Richardson retired Blackman on a liner to second for the second out of the inning and then intentionally walked May. Buccilli followed with a double off of diving Flames center fielder Ryan Cordell's glove, scoring two runs for a 3-1 advantage. The next batter Remillard doubled to bring home Buccilli to make it 4-1. Later in the frame, Coastal Carolina pushed across another run against Liberty left-hander Robert Gray on a throwing error by Flames shortstop Dalton Britt on an infield single by second baseman Jake Kane for what proved to be the final score of 5-1.
Liberty tried to rally in the top of the ninth against Chanticleers reliever Patrick Corbett. With two outs, third baseman Jake Kimble lined a double into the left field corner. Left fielder Ashton Perritt then beat out a high chopper to shortstop for an infield single, which moved Kimble to third base. However, Corbett retired Cordell on a fly out to center to seal the win for Coastal Carolina.
The Flames outhit the Chanticleers, 6-5. Grauer collected two hits for Liberty. No Coastal Carolina hitter had more than one hit.
Smith moves to 3-1 on the year. He gave up one run on four hits over the first eight innings. He struck out two and struggled at times, walking six batters.
Liberty and Coastal Carolina will meet in the middle game of their three-game Big South series tomorrow at TicketReturn.com Field at Pelicans Ballpark. First pitch is scheduled for 7:30 p.m.