March 23, 2011
CHARLESTON - Tommy La Stella hit a solo home run in the first inning and a two-run double in the ninth to lead #29 Coastal Carolina (14-8) to a 6-5 come-from-behind win over The Citadel (8-12) Wednesday night at Joseph P. Riley Park. La Stella was 3-for-3 on the night with three RBI, two runs scored and two walks.
In the top of the ninth and down one, pinch hitter Tripp Martin singled with one out and Scott Woodward worked a walk. Hayes Orton, who made a key play in the eighth to keep CCU down just one, looked to be the hero at the plate, but his line drive to left-center field was caught. Then, with two outs, La Stella came through with a two-run double, giving Coastal a 6-5 lead.
Josh Conway, who had entered the game as a pinch runner and stayed as the designated hitter, moved to the mound in the bottom of the ninth, striking out one, getting a fly out and a ground out to earn his first save of the season. Keith Hessler (1-0) pitched the eighth, allowing one hit, to get the win.
Coastal took an early 1-0 lead when La Stella hit a two-out, solo home run over the right fielder wall into a stiff wind.
The Bulldogs answered back with two runs in the home half. Drew DeKerlegand reached on an infield hit and scored one batter later off Matt Simonelli's triple down the right field line. Justin Meckert then plated Simonelli with a sacrifice fly to center.
The Chants put three on the board in the third to take a 4-2 lead. John Fidanza walked, stole second and scored on Hayes Orton's two-out, RBI single up the middle. After a La Stella walk and a balk on Citadel starter Bryce Hines, Coastal had runners on second and third. Taylor Motter, who was 2-for-4, drove in the two with a double down the left field line.
Citadel trimmed its deficit in the bottom of the sixth with a lead-off home run down the left field line by Nick Orvin. Then, DeKerlegand and Simonelli followed with a bunt single and walk, respectively. After a sacrifice bunt, William Ladd looped a liner into right field to score the two and give Citadel a 5-4 lead.
The Bulldogs looked to pad their lead in the eighth. With runners on the corners and one out, a fly ball was hit to center field and Coastal's Orton caught the fly and threw the runner out at home for an inning-ending double play.
Matt Rein started for the Chants and pitched five-plus innings, allowing four hits and four runs with a walk and three strike outs. For The Citadel, Drew Mahaffey worked two-thirds of an inning in the ninth and allowed three hits and two runs to fall to 0-4.
Coastal will wrap its road swing with a three-game set at UNC Asheville (Mar. 25-27) before returning to the Grand Strand to host 2010 American League Champions Texas Rangers Mar. 29 before a sold-out BB&T Coastal Field.