Baseball Picked to Win Big South Title


Baseball Picked to Win Big South Title

CONWAY, SC —The Coastal Carolina University baseball team has been picked to win the Big South Conference regular-season title in a vote of the conference coaches and sports information directors, the conference office announced today (Jan. 28). Coastal, who has been picked to win the title five of the last six years, received 10 first-place votes, narrowly defeating Winthrop for first place.

The Chants had 154 total votes, compared to 152 for the Eagles. Every voter picked Coastal and Winthrop either first or second. Birmingham-Southern was picked third, followed by Charleston Southern, UNC Asheville, Liberty, VMI, High Point and Radford.

Coastal is coming off a tie for second place during the 2003 regular season, but is looking to win its fourth Big South Tournament title in a row. The Chants return Big South First Team member Ryan McGraw (Saginaw, Mich./Nouvel Catholic Central) in the outfield and at the top of the lineup. McGraw needs 67 stolen bases this season to become the nation’s all-time career stolen base leader. Shortstop Brett Grandstrand (Newcastle, Wash./Liberty) and catcher Chad Oxendine (Rowland, N.C./Avalon Academy) also are returning starters to the squad. Returnees Jeremiah Grove (Los Banos, Calif./Merced J.C.), Patrick Nichols (Chesapeake, Va./Greenbriar Christian Academy), Greg Orsimarsi (Myrtle Beach, S.C./Socastee) and Adam Pernasilici (Tecumseh, Ontario/St. Anne’s) also figure into Coastal’s lineup.

Senior righthander Steven Carter (Windsor, Ontario/St. Anne’s) is Coastal’s ace. Carter was 11-3 with a 4.06 earned-run-average last season and needs seven wins to pass Scott Sturkie for most wins by a Coastal pitcher. Junior lefthander Jake Hurry (East Moline, Ill./Alleman) and sophomore righthander Mike Costanzo (Springfield, Pa./Archbishop Carroll) also figure into the rotation. Costanzo also will hit, as he had a .318 batting average with eight home runs last season. The bullpen is solid with closer Byron Binda (Stafford, Va./North Stafford) surrounded by returnees Zach Baldwin (Barboursville, W.Va./Cabell Midland), Mike Andreas (Hanover, Pa./Georgia Tech) and Josh Fish (Bostic, N.C./Rutherfordton Spindale).

Coastal opens the 2004 season Feb. 7 against Delaware State at 2 p.m., in Charles Watson Stadium. The Big South Conference opener is March 26 against Birmingham-Southern in Conway, S.C.

Team (First-Place Votes) Total
1 Coastal Carolina (10) 154
2. Winthrop (8) 152
3. Birmingham-Southern 122
4. Charleston Southern 88
5. UNC Asheville 85
6. Liberty 82
7. VMI 53
8. High Point 44
9. Radford 30