Down a run with only two outs left in an elimination game at the 2010 NCAA Myrtle Beach Regional, Coastal Carolina senior Rico Noel hit a walk off two-run homer off the left field foul pole to give the Chanticleers (54-8) a thrilling 8-7 victory over the College of Charleston (44-18) and force a winner take all championship game at 1 p.m. on June 7 at BB& T Coastal Field for a spot in the Super Regionals.
College of Charleston got on the board first, scoring two runs in the top of the second. Greg Blake recorded the first run on a solo home run over the right field fence and Kolby Epley followed with a single through the left side. Hutson Dodds advanced Epley to second on another hit through the left side and Jamie Hollar earned the RBI single, giving the Cougars a 2-0 lead. The rally was stopped short as Joey Bergman hit into a double play at first base to end the inning.
The Chanticleers came back to tied the game at 2-2 in the bottom of the third. Taylor Motter started things off for Coastal with a double down the right field line. Adam Rice put two runners on base for the Chanticleers after striking out, but reached first on a wild pitch. Both runners advanced on a wild pitch and Noel drove in both runners on a double to left field.
The Chants took the lead in the bottom of fifth off a Motter solo shot to left field, giving Coastal the 3-2 advantage.
College of Charleston tied the game back up in the top of the sixth with an RBI single by Dodds to center field, bringing in Jose Rodriguez, who reached base on a walk.
The Cougars regained a two-run lead in the top of the seventh. Cole Rakar started things off with a single to left field and Rob Kral put runners at the corners with a hit through the right side. Matt Leeds recorded a sacrifice fly to bring in Rakar. Rodriguez drove in
the second run on a double to right field.
Coastal answered back in the bottom of the seventh and took the lead back with three runs. Motter started the rally off for the Chants with a dinger to left field. Following the home run, College of Charleston committed three back-to-back-to-back errors putting Rice and Scott Woodward at first and second. Noel kept things going after beating out the throw on a bunt, sending Rice home to tie the game at 5-5. Coastal took the lead on a Jose Iglesias groundout, scoring Woodward.
The lead did not last long as Joey Bergman slammed a two-run home run over the scoreboard in left center in the top of the eighth to give the Cougars a 7-6 lead.
Trailing by a run in the bottom of the ninth, Woodward drew a one-out walk to start the rally. He stole second to advance into scoring position and scored on Noel's dramatic blast.
Matt Rein started on the mound for the Chanticleers, pitching 5.2 innings, scattering eight hits with five strikeouts. Matt Laney (3-1) earned the win for Coastal and retired the only batter he saw in the top of the ninth inning. CofC reliever Owen Brittle (1-2) was the tough loser and gave up the Noel game-winner.
Noel led the offensive charge for the Chants with four hits and five RBI. Motter hit a pair of home run among his three hits for Coastal. College of Charleston's Bergman drove in a pair of runs. Four different Cougars recorded multi-hit performances.
Coastal Carolina Head Coach Gary Gilmore
"These two young men (Rico Noel and Matt Rein) were absolutely unbelievable today. College of Charleston has been a thorn in our side for a while and it took a heroic effort to get it done and I'm glad that off of our back. We can actually breathe in the dugout now."
"Absolutely, our arms are ready to go. If they can pick up and put their jersey on then they are going to have to give us something. My hat goes off to this young man (Rein). This is the first time in the last six games we've played them. We had a pitcher go out there and give us a chance to finish the ball game. He did a fantastic job, we really needed him to do it and he did a great job for us today."
Coastal Carolina Outfielder Rico Noel
"I just wanted to get Scotty over for sure and I just had to get a base hit and bring him in. I figured I'd grounded it out, he threw and inside fastball with two strikes and I just reacted, caught it off the bat. I was hoping I got enough of it and hoping it didn't go foul. It all worked out."
After the Cougars' home run in the 8th:
"It was a heartbreaker at first and I knew our team had to fight until the last out. We had three more times to bat. It was heartbreaking, but we stayed in there and rode it out."
College of Charleston Head Coach Monte Lee
"It was a tough loss for our guys, but as always being a head coach for a club like I have I'm proud of the way they competed. Josh Salay gave us a great start and Tom Schiller gave us a quality outing out of the bullpen. We just made a mistake up in the zone that happens time to time and a good player like Noel put a good swing on it. Our guys battled, we fought and we scored four runs in the 7th and 8th inning, it just didn't work out for us tonight. All I can ask for my guys this time of year that they compete as hard as they can this time of year and enjoy playing in a regional and regional championship. I can't ask for more than that out of them. I am as proud of this group as any group I have ever been apart of. It just didn't work out for us. We're in a great situation right now, we still have life we just have to come out tomorrow and play our best baseball."
College of Charleston Infielder Joey Bergman
About how to win tomorrow and the emotional Chanticleer win:
"Tomorrow is a new day. Whoever wins tomorrow is going to take home and go to the Supers. We are going to have to refocus, get a good nights rest, and come back tomorrow play hard. I feel like we good shot."
On having a short term memory:
"You have to stay level and can't be too high and too low at one time. Tomorrow we will come out and the best team will advance."
College of Charleston Infielder Greg Blake
On getting the lead then losing the game in the ninth:
"It was an emotional rollercoaster, and that's why I love the game. Hopefully you're always on the end where you are always having success, but tonight, unfortunately, we didn't come out on top and tomorrow we will go get them."