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Baseball Opens Big South Championships with 9-4 Win over VMI

Baseball Opens Big South Championships with 9-4 Win over VMI

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Release courtesy of the Big South



ASHEVILLE, N.C. – Rico Noel and Adam Rice powered No. 1 seed Coastal Carolina to a 9-4 victory over No. 8 seed VMI in Game 1 of the 2009 Royal Purple Big South Baseball Championship, May 20 at historic McCormick Field in Asheville, N.C.  With the victory, the Chanticleers improve to 43-13 and advance to play the loser of No. 3 Liberty-No. 4 Radford Thursday at 3:00pm.  VMI falls to 18-34 and moves to the loser’s bracket and will face the loser of No. 2 Winthrop-No. 6 High Point Thursday at 11:00am.

Rice’s two-run home run in the bottom of the first gave the Chanticleers an early 2-0 lead.  Noel doubled off the centerfield wall and moved to third on a wild pitch.  Rice followed with a line drive over the leftfield wall for his seventh home run of the year to plate the game’s first runs.

Coastal Carolina upped its lead to 5-0 in the third inning.  David Anderson singled and Tyler Bortnick doubled to put runners at second and third with no outs.  Daniel Bowman knocked in Anderson on an infield hit, and after Taylor Motter grounded out to the pitcher, Jose Iglesias doubled home Bortnick and Bowman for the five-run advantage.  Rice added his third RBI of the day with a sacrifice fly in the fourth frame that scored Noel, who tripled off the rightfield scoreboard with one out, to give the Chants a 6-0 lead. 

VMI scored its first run in the fifth inning.  Graham Sullivan led off the inning with a double, which ended eight consecutive retired batters by Coastal Carolina starter Nick McCully.  After Justin Topping popped out, Brian Sandridge reached on an error to put runners on first and second.  Jacob Morley’s fly out to center advanced Sullivan to third, and A.J. Yoder singled home Sullivan to cut Coastal Carolina’s lead to 6-1.  But Noel recorded his third hit of the day in the bottom half of the inning when he knocked in three runs with a two-out, bases loaded double that increased the Chanticleers’ lead to 9-1. 

The Keydets rallied in the top of the eighth with three runs.  Tanner Biagini singled to open the inning and advanced to third on Sam Roberts’ double in the centerfield gap.  Biagini then scored on Jordan Ballard’s single to make the score 9-2, which chased Chanticleer pitcher Keith Hessler from the game.  Roberts later scored on Sullivan’s ground out, and Topping delivered a long single off the scoreboard to bring home Ballard and cut VMI’s deficit to the eventual final margin at 9-4.

McCully allowed four hits and one unearned run in six innings of work to improve to 7-1 on the season.  He struck out three hitters and did not walk a batter.  Henderson was tagged with the loss to fall to 3-7.  He went three innings and gave up six runs on eight hits with four strikeouts.

Noel reached base all five times at the plate on two doubles, two hit-by-pitches and a triple.  He also stole two bases and scored twice.  Rice had three RBI, while Bowman collected two hits.  Sullivan, Yoder and Morley led VMI with two hits each.

Coastal Carolina Head Coach Gary Gilmore
“Rico (Noel) is a guy that sets the table for our offense.  He had a great game for us with some big hits and great plays in the outfield.  I think he is one of the most dynamic guys in the country on the bases.  Nick was outstanding.  That is exactly what we needed out of him.  He gave up six strong innings with a lot of zeroes on that scoreboard.”

VMI Head Coach Marlin Ikenberry
“I thought that Chris Henderson was without his good stuff today.  We didn’t want to extend him too much in hopes that we can bring him back in a couple of days.  I was proud of how our offense fought back and how Andrew Deal pitched as a freshman against the No. 18-ranked team in the country.”