Category Archives: Big South Conference Baseball

Big South Championship Preview

As predicted before the first pitch was ever thrown, Big South Baseball comes down to two teams – Coastal Carolina and Liberty University. The Chanticleers and Flames are both undefeated in the tournament and face-off today at 4:00 in the winner-take-all championship game.

The game is set to air on ESPN3.

How they got here

Liberty earned its way to Championship Saturday in dramatic fashion yesterday with a 2-run walk-off home run by Trey Wimmer in the bottom of the ninth inning to eliminate Gardner-Webb 4-3. Earlier in the week, the Flames defeated UNC Asheville 9-2 in their first game and knocked off two seed Campbell 7-0.

The Chanticleers also had a little drama in their run to the final – a three-run ninth inning come-from-behind win over Charleston Southern 9-8 in their first game. The Chants rallied to defeat five seed Radford 5-3 and survived tournament host and seven seed High Point 4-3.

What to expect

On paper we should expect a low scoring close game – one that either team can win. Liberty’s probable starter is John Niggli (9-3, 2.01) while Coastal probably calls on Tyler Herb (8-2, 2.87).

RHP John Niggli picked up the win in Liberty’s first game going seven innings giving up one run on six hits. He struck out four while walking two. He threw 100 pitches.

RHP Tyler Herb went 3 and two-thirds innings and struggled for Coastal in game one. He was responsible for seven runs on nine hits. He walked two and struck out one. He threw 73 pitches.

What we will probably see – Johnny Wholestaff for both teams, if necessary. This game is, after all, for the championship but it’s also for the automatic bid to the NCAA playoffs. Coastal is arguably in good enough shape to make it to a regional even with a loss today. Liberty’s only hope for the postseason is to get the W.

A little bit of history

First and most recent – Coastal swept the Flames in a three-game series at Liberty earlier this year. Niggli and Herb started game two of that series. Herb got the win in that 4-2 game. He went 6 and two-thirds innings and gave up two runs on three hits. He struck out five while walking four. Niggli got the loss going seven and one-third innings giving up all four Coastal runs on nine hits while striking out six and walking two.

Second – the streak. Coastal has won the last 16 games against Liberty. Coastal has won the last five Big South Tournaments.

Notable

Senior RF Daniel Bowman is the all-time hits leader for Coastal (304) and leads the Big South in total bases (519). For the tournament, he is 8-for-11 with 8 runs.

Senior Rich Witten is 5-for-11 with 1 run and 7 RBI.

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Campbell sweeps Radford

BUIES CREEK – Campbell (38-15, 13-8 Big South) moved into second place in the Big South standings with a doubleheader sweep of Radford (26-24-1, 11-10 Big South) on Saturday at Taylor Field. The Fighting Camels won the first game 6-4 before taking the nightcap 1-0 behind the arms of Hector Cedano, who tossed 8.1 innings of three-hit ball in the start, and Ryan Mattes. Mattes recorded a save in all three games of the series to break the Campbell single season saves record with his ninth of the year in Game 2.

Michael Felton was 6-for-9 on the day to complete a week in which he batted .625 (15-for-24) with five RBI and four runs scored. He broke the Campbell single season hits record during the second game of Saturday’s doubleheader, finishing with 95 hits on the year to top Ellis Lowe’s previous mark of 92 hits, set during the 2010 season.

Campbell concludes the regular season at home next weekend against Presbyterian. The final Big South series will feature three single games, beginning on Thursday evening at 6 p.m. Friday’s game will be “Johnny Parker Day” at Taylor Field, as the CU baseball programs honors the father of former student-athlete Colin Parker, who is battling cancer. Fans can buy raffle tickets at the 6 p.m. game to help support the Parker family. Senior Day will be held on Saturday with a 1 p.m. scheduled start time.

Game 1: Campbell 6, Radford 4

Campbell scored three runs in the fourth inning to take a 3-0 lead. Jake Kirkland gained his team-leading 53rd RBI of the season on a sac fly to plate Ben McQuown. CU then scored twice on bases loaded walks from RU starter Tyler Costello. Costello finished with three walks on the day in 5.2 innings pitched, scattering six hits, four runs and six strikeouts over that time.

Radford scored two runs in the fifth and two in the seventh to the game. The first three batters in the order for the Highlanders finished with seven of the team’s ten hits, led by Josh Gardiner’s 3-for-5 day.

CU broke the 4-4 tie with two runs in the bottom of the eighth to get a 6-4 win in a back-and-forth game. Felton, David Olson and Ben Fish all had two hits in the opener to lead the Camel offense.

Frank Zier provided a solid start the Camels, allowing just eight hits and two runs through his first six innings of work. After recording the first two outs of the seventh inning, RU mounted a two-out rally that plated two runs on just one hit to tie the game and give Zier a no decision. He finished with four runs, three walks and two strikeouts.

Andrew Jacobsen entered with the bases loaded and got a strikeout to keep the game tied. He tossed 1.2 innings, allowing just one hit and picking up the win to move to 6-0 on the eyar. Mattes entered with two on and two out in the ninth and recorded two strikeouts around a walk to get the save. Patten took the loss for RU, falling to 2-4 on the year.

Game 2: Campbell 1, Radford 0

The nightcap saw a pitcher’s duel between Radford starter Mark Peterson and Campbell left-hander Hector Cedano. The Highlanders only put more than one runner on base in an inning one time before the ninth, and a double play helped Cedano end that threat during the fourth inning.

Campbell scored the game’s lone run in the bottom of the fourth, with the rally starting with a single from Felton and a double from Kirkland. David Olson came through with a RBI groundout to the right side, allowing Felton to come to the plate with what proved to be the winning run.

Cedano set a new career high with 8.1 innings pitched in his start, allowing three hits and two walks over the first eight innings. After recording an out to lead off the ninth, he walked the next three batters to load the bases.

Having already recorded a save in Game 1 to tie the school single season record, Mattes entered and induced the game a soft dribbler back to the mound that he tossed home to catcher Ben Fish for the second out of the inning. He then struck out Radford pinch hitter Westyn Baylor to pick up his third save in less than 24 hours and secure the series sweep for Campbell. The shutout was Campbell’s sixth of the season, also a school record for the pitching staff.

Peterson took the loss for Radford, falling to 4-2 after pitching 6.2 innings and surrendering seven hits and one run.

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Buccilli leads Coastal over Winthrop 4-1

Coastal Carolina defeated Winthrop 4-1 in the series opener at Charles Watson Stadium/Vrooman Field Friday night. The Chants are now 34-15, 15-4 while the Eagles fall to 14-33, 7-12.

Alex Buccilli went 4-for-4 and accounted for three of the Chanticleer’s four runs. He laced an RBI single into right field to give Coastal a 1-0 lead in the first inning. Rinse and repeat in the third inning. He then stole second and scored on a Tucker Frawley single to left field to put Coastal up 3-0.

Tyler Herb (8-2) picked up the win for the Chants. He gave up one run on two hits over 5.0 innings pitched. He walked two while striking out four. He did not allow a hit during the first four innings.

The Eagles got on the board in the fifth inning. Chad Smith led it off with a single to third. He moved to second on a sacrifice bunt and scored on a Drew Hardee RBI single to center field. Hardee moved to second and then third on two wild pitches but Herb induced a ground out to first to end the inning and the Winthrop threat.

Freshman LHP Ben Smith came on in relief to start the sixth inning and was lights out. He went the remaining four innings – striking out six while allowing no hits, no runs and no walks.

Senior Rich Witten went 2-for-3 with a solo home run in the seventh inning to finish out the scoring.

Matt Pierpont took the loss for the Eagles giving up four runs on 11 hits while walking four. He had five strikeouts over 6 and two-thirds innings pitched.

Around the Big South Conference

The race for the regular season champion is still not over and the top eight seeds for the BSC Tournament are still unresolved, but here is a brief look at Friday’s action.

Radford at Campbell

In the show down for second place in Buies Creek, Campbell outlasted Radford 6-3 to move into a tie for second place with the Highlanders.

The Fighting Camels put the game out of reach in the fifth inning, scoring five runs on a wild pitch, four consecutive RBI singles and an RBI groundout.

Matt Sergey picked up the win going seven innings while giving up three runs on five hits. He walked three and struck out five.

Michael Felton went 4-for-5 with one RBI and a run scored to lead the offense.

High Point at Liberty

The Flames collected their tenth shutout of the season by knocking off the Panthers 5-0 at Worthington Stadium Friday night. Liberty is now 35-15, 11-8 and High Point drops to 23-26, 8-11.

Liberty is now in a three-way tie for second place with Radford and Campbell.

John Niggli (8-2) picked up the win going seven innings. He allowed six hits while striking out three and walking one.

Ryan Retz took the loss – his first Big South Conference loss on the year – giving up four runs on eight hits over 5 and two-thirds innings pitched.

Charleston Southern at VMI

VMI defeated Charleston Southern 6-5 Friday night at Gray-Minor Stadium. The Keydets move to 15-32, 7-15 while the Buccaneers drop to 18-30, 9-10.

The loss puts CSU in a tie for sixth place with Gardner-Webb.

Gardner-Webb at Presbyterian

The Blue Hose rallied in the ninth inning to defeat the Runnin’ Bulldogs 4-3 in Clinton, South Carolina Friday night.

Presbyterian moves up to 21-28, 8-12 and Gardner-Webb drops to 27-23, 9-10.

UNC Asheville at College of Charleston

The Bulldogs defeated the Cougars 4-2 in a non-conference game Friday night at Patriots Point and improve to 23-24 overall. They are 11-10 in the BSC.

Those 11 wins put Asheville in a four-way tie for second place but the Bulldogs have only three conference games remaining – at home next weekend against Gardner-Webb.

That’s it in a nutshell. Like a friend of mine likes to say: Clear as mud.

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CCU, Liberty drop extra-inning games

The short story on the Big South Conference standings is that nothing has changed. The longer story is that the frontrunners failed to capitalize on an opportunity for separation in the race for the regular season championship.

Here’s how the standings looked going into this weekend: Coastal Carolina 7-2 (.778); Liberty 9-3 (.750); Campbell 8-4 (.667); and Radford 6-3 (.667). High Point was next in line at 7-5 (.583).

Coastal Carolina lost to High Point 8-5 in 12 innings. The Chanticleer line score tells the whole story: 5-9-6. Any time you boot the ball more times than you score, it’s hard to win.

Liberty lost to UNC Asheville 7-6 in 13 innings. The Flames rallied for three runs to take the lead in the ninth inning but couldn’t hold it. A wild pitch in the bottom of the 13th led to a Bulldog run and the win.

Campbell and Radford each split their respective doubleheaders. The Fighting Camels won their first game 6-4 against VMI but lost game two 3-2 against the BSC last place Keydets.

The Highlanders also picked up a win in their first game by defeating Winthrop 7-1 but dropped game two 9-8 in 10 innings.

As a result, here are today’s standings: Coastal Carolina 7-3 (.700); Liberty 9-4 (.692); Campbell 9-5 (.643); Radford 7-4 (.636); and High Point 8-5 (.615).

There’s plenty of baseball left this weekend but the question still remains.

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Big South Weekend Previews on SouthEastern Baseball

Click on the logo below to check out my Big South Conference Previews for this weekend.

 

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