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.
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.