Feb. 20, 2011
CONWAY - Coastal Carolina freshman K.J. McAllister drew four walks, but none more important than his last, extending the ninth inning and allowing classmate Tripp Martin to hit a walk-off home run and give the 18th-ranked Chanticleers (3-1) a 6-5 win over Virginia Tech (2-1) to end a marathon day of baseball for CCU Sunday at Watson Stadium as part of the Caravelle Resort Tournament.
McAllister, getting his first career start at second base, stepped to the plate with two outs, facing a 2-2 count and Coastal down one run. The Clearmont, Ga., native ran the count full and watched the following pitch just miss the strike zone for the walk. Martin, who was 1-for-6 in the first game, hit the first pitch over the left field wall, giving the Chanticleers their second walk-off home run of the three-day event.
The dramatics were set in the in the top of the ninth, when Virginia Tech's Michael Seaborn singled to lead off, reached second on a passed ball and moved to third on a sacrifice bunt. Then, while the Chants' were attempting to walk Ronnie Shaban, a pitch bounced off the catcher's glove, getting far enough way to allow Seaborn to score and put the Hokies on top 5-4.
The finish was the second nail-bitter for Coastal. In the first game of the day, the Chants dropped a 2-1, 16-inning, four-hour, 31-minute marathon with Indiana.
Looking to take advantage of CCU's long day, the Hokies jumped out to an early 1-0 lead on a two-out, first inning solo home run by Michael Seaborn.
Coastal Carolina took advantage of two good bunts and two Virginia Tech errors to score twice in the bottom of the second for a 2-1 lead. Hayes Orton started the home half with a bunt single and McAllister followed with the first of his four walks. John Findanza executed a sacrifice bunt, but reached on a throwing error to load the bases. Zach Lopes, in his first collegiate at bat, delivered a sacrifice fly to right, plating Orton. On the play, a throwing error allowed McAllister to score as well.
Virginia Tech answered right back, tying the game at 2-2 in the top of the third. Johnny Morales singled with one out and stole second. With two outs, Tim Smalling singled, to drive in Morales.
In the bottom of the third, Daniel Bowman reached on a two-out single, stole second and scored on Orton's single to center to put Coastal back on top, 3-2.
The back and forth game continued in the fifth with Virginia Tech taking a 4-3 lead. Chad Morgan and Tony Balisteri had leadoff singles and each moved into scoring position after a sacrifice bunt. With two outs, Smalling singled back up the middle to score Morgan and Balisteri. Coastal answered in the home half, tying the game at 4-4. After loading the bases, Orton drove home Tommy La Stella with a fielder's choice RBI.
Virginia Tech dodged a bullet in the bottom of the eighth. Lopes walked to leadoff and reached third on a throwing error. Later, with runners on second and third, Rich Witten hit what looked to give Coastal the lead with a well-hit ball, but left fielder Andrew Rash made an impressive catch at the wall to end the inning.
Coastal Carolina starter Jim Birmingham struck out six in seven inning's work, allowing six hits and four runs. Ryan Connolly held the Hokies at bay, striking out two of the three batters he faced. Josh Conway (1-0) picked up the win, allowing two hits and an unearned run with two strikeouts in his one inning on the mound.
For the Hokies, closer Jake Joyce (0-1) suffered the loss despite giving up just the one hit to Martin.
Coastal Carolina will return to action next weekend, hosting the annual Caravelle Resort's Baseball at the Beach, played at BB&T Coastal Field -- home of the Myrtle Beach Pelicans. (As a reminder, these games are not part of the Coastal Carolina season ticket package as the event is run by an outside group.) Coastal Carolina opens Baseball at the Beach by playing Kansas State this Thursday (Feb. 24) and will play California, Western Kentucky and North Carolina State on subsequent days. All CCU games at Baseball at the Beach are set to begin at 4 pm, except Saturday's contest with Western Kentucky which is set for 3:30 pm.