The 23rd-ranked Coastal Carolina University baseball team (44-12, 21-3 Big South) earned the outright Big South regular season championship and the top seed in the 2005 Bojangles Big South Tournament with a 6-2 win over Winthrop University (39-19, 19-5 Big South) May 22 in Rock Hill, S.C. Coastal will now face sixth-seeded Radford University in the first round of the tournament Wednesday, May 25 at 11 a.m. in Charles Watson Stadium/Vrooman Field in Conway, S.C.
Coastal wins the Big South regular season title for the ninth time in school history and for the first time since 2002. Coastal also earned its 44th regular-season win and its 21st Big South win, both school records.
Coastal and sophomore Andy DeLaGarza (Ossian, Ind./Norwell) got out of a jam in the first. Chris Carrara walked to open the inning and moved to second on a Heath Rollins sacrifice bunt. DeLaGarza walked Daniel Carte to put runners at the corners. Jacob Dempsey then hit a liner right back to DeLaGarza, who doubled up Carte to end the threat.
Coastal put up two runs in the top of the second. Freshman Tommy Baldridge (Fort Mill, S.C./Fort Mill) continued a great series with a doubled to center field, scoring sophomore Chris Raber (Coplay, Pa./Whitehall), who walked to open the frame. Baldridge moved to second on a sacrifice by junior Aaron Verrett (Jupiter, Fla./Polk C.C.) and scored on a safety squeeze from sophomore Josh Eachues (Newberry, S.C./Newberry).
The Chanticleers made it 3-0 in the third. Sophomore Dom Duggan (Cranberry Twp., Pa./John Carroll) started the frame with a single and moved to second on a walk to junior Mike Costanzo (Springfield, Pa./Archbishop Carroll). Both runners moved up on a sacrifice by junior Michael DeJesus (Manapalan, N.J./East Carolina) and Duggan scored on a sacrifice fly from Raber.
In the fourth, Coastal scored a run as Eachues singled, moved to second on a sacrifce by senior Jon Foisy (Ridgecrest, Calif./Cerro Coso C.C.) and scored on a single from senior Chris Todd (Seattle, Wash./Bellevue C.C.). Coastal had the bases loaded with one out, but DeJesus grounded into a double play to end the inning. Coastal tacked on another in the fifth. Raber led off the inning with a single, stole second, went to third on a Baldridge groundout and scored on a Verrett sacrifice fly.
Costanzo added insurance in the top of the ninth with a leadoff home run, his 13th of the season.
DeLaGarza had his third straight outstanding outing, pitching 7.1 innings, allowing only one earned run and scattering eight hits. Junior Mike Valter (Bloomingdale, N.J./Briarcliffe C.C.) earned his first save of the season, striking out one in 1.2 innings. The loss went to Mike Honce, who gave up four earned runs in 3.1 innings.
Duggan, Costanzo and Eachues had two hits apiece, while Raber scored two runs. For Winthrop, Lentz had three hits on the day, while Repece had two hits and drove in two.