March 31, 2010
CLEMSON, S.C. – Junior Rico Noel belted a two-out solo home run in the 11th inning as the 14th-ranked Coastal Carolina University baseball team (20-5) defeated 10th-ranked Clemson (18-7) 4-3 March 31 at Doug Kingsmore Stadium in Clemson, S.C. It was Coastal’s first win over the Tigers since 2005 and the first win at Clemson since 2003.
Noel hit his fourth home run of the season and it was the second straight extra-inning game that his home run was the difference. Noel hit a walk-off home run in the 10th inning in a 3-2 win over Radford April 10, 2009. Redshirt-senior Austin Fleet walked John Hinson to open the bottom of the 11th. Hinson moved to second on a John Nestor sacrifice fly, but Fleet got Chris Epps to fly out and Will Lamb to groundout back to him to end the game.
The first three Chanticleers reached base in the first, but Coastal could not push a run across the plate. Noel went to second on a throwing error by John Hinson. Noel would be out as junior Scott Woodward hit him with a ground ball between second and third. Woodward then was caught stealing. Senior Jose Iglesias walked on four pitches but would be stranded as redshirt-sophomore Tommy La Stella’s shot to center was caught on the wall by Addison Johnson.
Clemson’s first three hitters of the fourth all scored, giving the Tigers the early three-run lead. Mike Freeman led off the inning with a single. He scored on a triple to the right field gap by Jeff Schaus. Schaus would trot home as Kyle Parker hit junior Matt Rein’s first pitch over the wall in center field. It was Parker’s 11th home run of the season.
Coastal answered with a run in the top of the fifth. With one out, sophomore Taylor Motter reached on an infield single. Sophomore Steve Davis then hit a grounder to short, which was thrown away by Brad Miller, putting runners on second and third. Noel then flew out to center, scoring Motter.
Coastal got out of a bases-loaded jam in the sixth. Redshirt-sophomore Keith Hessler struck out Schaus and Miller, but walked Parker, Wilson Boyd and Hinson to load the bases. Junior Matt Laney got out of the jam by getting John Nestor to ground out to first.
Coastal scored a run in the top of the seventh and was threatening for more. Davis singled through the left side with two outs. He went to third on a single from Noel. Davis would score on a passed ball, moving Noel to second. Woodward reached on an infield single, his second of the game. Iglesias then scorched a liner to right, but Boyd tracked it down for the third out.
Again, Coastal got out of a bases-loaded jam in the seventh. With one out, Will Lamb was hit by a pitch. He moved to second on a Freeman walk. Laney got Schaus to ground out before the Chants gave the ball to freshman Ryan Connolly. He walked to load the bases. Redshirt-senior Austin Fleet came in and struck out Boyd to end the threat.
La Stella opened the eighth with his third home run of the season, a shot to right field, to tie the game at three. Coastal knocked on the door again in the ninth, but did not score. Motter opened with a walk and moved to second on a Davis sacrifice bunt. Motter then went to third on a wild pitch. Clemson reliever David Haselden then hit Noel and walked Woodward to load the bases. Haselden got out of the jam by striking out Iglesias and La Stella.
In the first extra inning game of the season, both teams hit long fly balls that were caught at the warning track. Epps made a great play on a long Bowman fly in the top of the 10th, while Bowman returned the favor on a Miller fly to right in the bottom of the frame.
Fleet earned the win in relief for the Chants. He did not allow a hit in 4.1 innings pitched. Rein allowed three runs and five hits with a strikeout in four innings pitched. Redshirt-sophomore Keith Hessler struck out five in 1.2 innings, while Laney and Connolly did not allow a hit in an inning.
Haselden allowed just the Noel home run in three innings of relief, but was tagged with the loss. Dominic Leone started for the Tigers. He gave up four hits and an unearned run in 5.1 innings.
Noel and Woodward had two hits apiece for the Chants, while Parker drove in a pair for Clemson.
Coastal Carolina hosts Presbyterian in a three-game series. The Chants and Blue Hose open the weekend Friday, April 2 at 6 p.m., at Watson Stadium/Vrooman Field.