May 19, 2011
CONWAY - Playing in one of his final home games, local product and senior Keith Hardwick (Myrtle Beach/Carolina Forest HS) had an RBI double in the first and a three-run home run in the third to lift #26 to a 9-3 victory over Charleston Southern Thursday night at Watson Stadium/Vrooman Field. Also, Coastal's win, coupled by a 5-4 Radford win at Liberty, secured the Chants getting the #1 seed to the 2011 Royal Purple Big South Baseball Championship, held May 24-28 at VMI, and at least a share of the 2011 Big South Regular Season Championship.
The Chanticleers (36-17, 19-6 Big South) also tied a school record by stealing nine bases on the night, equaling a feat previously done at Radford on April 21, 2002.
Coastal will have two final home games this week to close the regular season. Prior to Friday's 6 pm game, the University will recognized head coach Gary Gilmore for winning his 900th career game earlier this week. All of Coach Gilmore's former players are encouraged to come to the game and share in the celebration on the field. Then, in the regular-season finale at 2 pm Saturday, the Department of Athletics will honor its six senior baseball players, including Hardwick, Scott Woodward, Hayes Orton, Matt Rein, Matt Laney and Jim Birmingham.
In addition to Hardwick's impressive night, junior Anthony Meo improved to 8-3 on the season and 30-7 for his career. Thursday, he allowed seven hits, three runs and two walk while striking out eight. In getting his 30th career win, which is third on the Big South all-time list behind three CCU pitchers, Meo does become the first three-year player in school and Big South history to reach the 30-win plateau.
Coastal took a 2-0 lead in the bottom of the first. Woodward, who had three stolen bases in Thursday's contest, and Witten had leadoff singles then two stole third and second, respectively. Woodward, who extended his hit streak to 16 games, would score on a Daniel Bowman RBI fielder's choice. Hardwick followed with an RBI double down the left field line, driving in Bowman.
Charleston Southern (27-27, 14-11 Big South) answered in the top of the second, using a three doubles to three different parts of the field to tie the game at 2-2. Walt Quattlebaum found a hole for a double down the left field line to start the frame. After a strike out, Matt Still doubled to center and scored on Alex Tomasovich's RBI double down the right field line.
Taylor Motter manufactured a run in in the home half of the second, putting the Chants up 3-2. After a leadoff single, the junior stole second, moved to third on a Tucker Frawley fly out and scored on a wild pitch.
In the third, Witten singled and Tommy La Stella walked to start the inning. After a sac bunt, Hardwick cleared the bases with a three-run home run, his fifth round-tripper of the season to put the Chants on top 6-2.
Coastal padded its advantage with a run in the fifth, going up 7-2. Hayes Orton doubled and scored two batters later on Frawley's RBI double down the right field line.
Charleston South did get that run back in the top of the sixth as Derek Smith hit a solo home run, taking sole possession of first place in the Big South with 12 dingers. However, in the bottom of the sixth, Woodward walked, stole second and third, and scored on a Witten sacrifice fly to center.
The Chants added an insurance run in the eighth. Frawley walked, stole second and moved to third on a sac bunt. Woodward followed with a sacrifice fly to left center. Witten, who was 3-for-4, then reached on an error, which proved key for La Stella. The junior was given one last at bat to extended his hit streak after a fly out, walk and two ground outs. La Stella took advantage of the gift and singled to right field, giving him a 13-game hit streak to tie his career long.
Buccaneer starter Stew Brase (5-7) suffered the loss. He allowed nine hits and seven runs with three walks and two strike outs.