May 28, 2011
LEXINGTON, Va. - Jordan Coons pitched seven scoreless innings, while Rich Witten and Daniel Bowman each hit home runs, to lead 24th-ranked and top-seed Coastal Carolina to a 6-1 decision over fifth-seeded Gardner-Webb Saturday at VMI's Gray-Minor Stadium, giving the Chanticleers an unprecedented fifth-straight Big South Baseball Tournament Championship.
Coastal Carolina, who has also won five straight Big South regular-season championships, will earn the league's automatic berth to the NCAA Championship. Overall, the Coastal has won 12 Big South Tournament Championships and has appeared in 16 of the 23 Big South Tournament titles games played.
During the postgame ceremony, Coastal Carolina senior Keith Hardwick was named the Tournament MVP, going 6-for-14 with four RBI. He was 1-for-4 with an RBI Saturday, 3-for-4 with the game-winning RBI in the ninth inning versus Liberty, 1-for-4 with two RBI versus Winthrop and 1-for-2 versus Radford.
In the top of the first Saturday, Coastal escaped a first and third jam as Coons got Dusty Quattlebaum to hit into an inning-ending double play. Then, in the home half, the Chants claimed a 1-0 lead as Witten hit a solo home run over the left-center field wall for his fifth round-tripper of the season.
In the third, Coastal erupted for five runs for a 6-0 advantage. Tripp Martin and Scott Woodward drew walks, sandwiched between outs. 2011 Big South Player of the Year Tommy La Stella then delivered a two-out single, driving in Martin. An error on the play allowed Woodward to score. With that, Woodward became the Big South's all-time leader in runs scored with 248, surpassing Winthrop's Chris Carrara for the top spot. Bowman followed with a two-run home run and Motter walked to chase GWU starter Emilio Pagan. HArdwick welcomed new pitcher Jeff Howell with an RBI double to left-center field.
Coons, in the mean time, was cruising on the mound. Including the inning-ending double play in the first, Coons retired 15 straight before allowing a walk to John Harris with two outs in the sixth.
Coons earned the win, improving to 5-3 on the season and lowering his season ERA to 1.21. He allowed three hits over his career-high seven innings with one walk and one strike out.
Gardner-Webb broke up the shutout with a run in the ninth. Jake Watts singled, advanced to second on a wild pitch and, with two outs, Aaron Miller hit an RBI single to right.
Pagan, who threw 97 pitches in six innings on Tuesday to get the win over High Point, suffered the loss, pitching on just three days rest and falling to 4-4. Watts and Miller each had two hits for the Bulldogs.
Please check back with GoCCUSports.com for details on the selection show Monday (which will be 12:30 pm on ESPN) as well as purchasing tickets for the NCAA Regional.
2011 Royal Purple Big South Baseball Championship All-Tournament Team
DH: Keith Hardwick, Coastal Carolina (MVP)
OF: Jake Watts, Gardner-Webb
OF: Adam McFarland, Gardner-Webb
OF: Daniel Bowman, Coastal Carolina
INF: Taylor Motter, Coastal Carolina
INF: Rich Witten, Coastal Carolina
INF: Aaron Miller, Gardner-Webb
INF: Walt Quattlebaum, Charleston Southern
C: Casey Rasmus, Liberty
UTL: Hayes Orton, Coastal Carolina
P: Anthony Meo, Coastal Carolina
P: Brett Stackhouse, Gardner-Webb
P: Keegan Linza, Liberty
P: Stew Brase, Charleston Southern
P: Eddie Butler, Radford