CCU baseball clinches regular season title

From Coastal Carolina University

LYNCHBURG, Va. – The fourth-ranked Coastal Carolina University baseball team (44-6, 22-0 Big South) clinched its 13th Big South regular-season championship in a 7-1 win over Liberty (37-14, 18-5 Big South) May 15 in Lynchburg, Va.  The Chants belted out 10 hits and took advantage of four Liberty errors to clinch a series win over the Flames.

The Chants manufactured a run in the top of the first.  Junior Rico Noel was hit by a pitch to lead off the game.  He moved to second on a sacrifice bunt from junior Scott Woodward.  Noel stole third and scored on a groundout from senior Jose Iglesias.

Coastal started the third inning much like it began the first.  Noel walked to open the inning and moved to second on a Woodward sacrifice bunt.  Noel scored on a single to right by Iglesias, giving the Chants a 2-0 lead.

The Chants scored a pair of runs in the fourth.  Sophomore Taylor Motter extended his hitting streak to 12 games with a single to lead off the inning.  He advanced to second as Kenneth Negron could not handle the grounder in left field.  Motter went to third on a sacrifice bunt from redshirt-senior Chance Gilmore and scored on a double in the right field gap by freshman Josh Conway.  Noel walked to put runners on first and second.  Both runners stole a base as Woodward struck out and a throwing error from Nathan Thompson brought in Conway to make it 4-0 Coastal.

Liberty loaded the bases in the bottom of the fifth, but scored only one run.  Junior Cody Wheeler walked Austin Taylor to open the inning.  Taylor would move to third on a Trey Wimmer double.  The Flames loaded the bases as Kenneth Negron reached on an infield single to third.  Wheeler got Curran Redal to pop out, but Matt Williams singled through the right side to score Taylor.  Wheeler then struck out Tyler Bream and Thompson, both looking, to end the Liberty threat.

Coastal would load the bases in the sixth, but would not score.  Gilmore singled and went to second as Conway's sacrifice bunt was mishandled by Shawn Teufel.  Teufel walked Noel to load the bases.  He struck out Woodward and the Flames would bring in Cameron Giannini.  The reliever would induce a fielder's choice out at the plate and a groundout to end the inning.

Coastal would plate three in the top of the seventh.  Senior Adam Rice took Giannini's first pitch over the wall in left field.  It was his eighth home run of the season. With one out, Motter reached second on a Bream error.  He went to third on a Gilmore single.  Giannini then walked Conway and Noel, scoring Motter.  The final run came in on a Woodward sacrifice fly that scored Gilmore.

Gilmore had three hits to lead the Chants, who have now won 32 straight Big South games.  La Stella and Rice had two hits apiece, while Noel and Motter scored a pair of runs.  For Liberty, Redal had two hits.

Wheeler earns his 10th win of the season and his 26th as a Chant, going six innings and allowing seven hits, a run with seven strikeouts and a walk.  Hessler picks up his first save of the year, allowing no hits and striking out a batter in the final three innings.  The loss went to Shawn Teufel, who lost for only the second time this season.  He allowed three earned runs and eight hits while striking out six in 5.1 innings of work.

Coastal Carolina won its fourth straight Big South regular-season title and will be the top seed in the 2010 Big South Baseball Championships in Rock Hill, S.C., May 25-29.  The Chants also tied their Division I record for wins in a regular season.  The Chants also had 44 wins in 2005 and 2007.

Coastal Carolina and Liberty conclude the three-game series Sunday, May 16 at 1 p.m., in Lynchburg, Va.