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Baseball Falls to Radford 11-7 in Big South Baseball Championships

Baseball Falls to Radford 11-7 in Big South Baseball Championships

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4 RADFORD RALLIES TO DEFEAT #1 COASTAL CAROLINA, 11-7
2009 Royal Purple Big South Baseball Championship Game 5

ASHEVILLE, N.C. – Reggie Keen’s two-out, two-run single in the top of the ninth broke a 7-7 tie, and the No. 4 Highlanders scored nine unanswered runs in the final four innings to come back from a 7-2 deficit and upset No. 1 seed Coastal Carolina, 11-7, in game 5 of the 2009 Royal Purple Big South Baseball Championship, May 21 at historic McCormick Field in Asheville, N.C. 

With the victory, Radford improves to 26-23 and advances to play No. 2 Winthrop in an elimination game Friday at 3:00pm.  Coastal Carolina falls to 43-14 and will face the loser of No. 3 Liberty-No. 6 High Point in an elimination game Friday morning at 11:00am.

Radford plated seven runs in the last two innings, including five in the top of the ninth to complete its comeback.  In the ninth, Will Naylor reached on a fielder’s choice and moved to third on Brett Mollenhauer’s single up the middle to put runner at the corners with two outs.  Ty Rivers singled through the right side to score Naylor and knot the game at 7-7.  Keen followed with the game-winning hit to left, and Radford added two more runs to pull ahead by four runs, 11-7.  Freshman pitcher Jason Patten entered the ninth and struck out the side to clinch the win for Radford.

Coastal Carolina opened the scoring in the bottom of the first.  Rico Noel was hit by a pitch to reach base for the sixth-straight time in the tournament.  He stole second and third base, and scored on David Anderson’s deep ground out to third base to give the Chanticleers an early 1-0 lead.  Coastal Carolina stretched its lead to 3-0 in the second frame when Scott Woodward singled home Jose Iglesias and Steven Davis with one out.

Radford pushed home its first run in the top of the third inning. Mollenhauer reached on a fielder’s choice and moved to second on Rivers’ single to center.  Keen followed with base hit to left that plated Mollenhauer.  The Highlanders loaded the bases with two outs, but Coastal Carolina starter Cody Wheeler struck out Nick Minter to end the threat.

In the bottom half, Coastal Carolina moved ahead 6-1 to chase Radford starter Aerik Taylor.  Anderson and Tyler Bortnick drew consecutive walks, and were moved up one base on Daniel Bowman’s sacrifice.  A fielding error by Highlanders’ shortstop Jeff Kemp on Iglesias’ grounder allowed Anderson and Bortnick to score for a 5-1 advantage.  Later in the inning, Taylor Motter reached on a fielder’s choice and came around on a Steve Davis single to center.

The Highlanders began to chip away at Coastal’s lead in the fourth inning and cut the deficit to 6-2.  Naylor reached on a two-out infield single and was brought home on a sharp single by Rivers.  Radford again loaded the bases, but Bowman made a diving catch on Kemp’s sinking line drive in rightfield to escape further damage.

Coastal plated another run the fourth to extend its lead to 7-2, but Radford rallied again and closed the gap in the sixth inning with two runs.  Robert Lamas doubled and then was doubled home by Naylor.  Mollenhauer and Rivers both reached base to load the bases with no outs.  Wheeler was replaced on the mound by Caleb Cueves, who gave up a sacrifice fly that made the score 7-4.  Bobby Gagg relieved Cuerves, who intentionally walked Alex Gregory to load the bases then proceeded to strike out Kemp and Minter.

In the top of the eighth, Gregory hit a two-out, two-run home run over the centerfield fence to bring Radford within one run at 7-6, setting the table for the ninth inning rally.  It was Gregory’s 10th homer of the season and 38th of his career, tying the Radford all-time record.  He is now tied for ninth in Big South history in career home runs as well.

Jake Quigg (5-1) was credited with the win for Radford.  He went 1.2 innings and allowed just one hit.  Paul DeVito relieved Taylor in the third inning and tossed 3.2 innings with five strikeouts and one run allowed.  Gagg suffered the loss to fall to 4-3.  He went 3.2 innings and struck out six batters, but permitted eight hits and seven runs.  Wheeler gave up eight hits and four runs in his five innings of work.  He also struck out five.

Keen was 2-4 with four RBI for Radford, who out-hit Coastal Carolina, 16-6.  Gregory was 3-4 with three runs batted in, while Rivers and Naylor also had three hits on the day.  Adam Rice was the lone Chanticleer with two hits against Radford.  Anderson drove in two runs to push his season total to 74, tying the Coastal Carolina single-season record and tying for seventh-most in a season in Big South history.

Radford Head Coach Joe Raccuia
“Words cannot describe how I feel right now, and the things that happened to us the last three hours are incredible.  We were on the brink of elimination against their No. 1 pitcher and facing Bobby Gagg, one of the best pitchers in this Conference, but we got contributions from freshmen and our bench, and our guys never quit.  This is one of the proudest moments I’ve ever had being affiliated with a team.”

Coastal Carolina Head Coach Gary Gilmore
“We didn’t do well offensively all day.  We had six runs on two hits at one point.  We didn’t get a huge hit other than Scott’s (Woodward) two-out single.  They brought in a left-handed guy that should have been a good matchup for us.  He pretty much shut us down.  The scoreboard tells the whole story.  We have two opportunities to get out of innings and we don’t make plays in the field.”