HIGH POINT, N.C. (www.BigSouthSports.com) - Justin Creel's bases loaded single through a drawn-in infield completed No. 1 Coastal Carolina's comeback from a 7-2 deficit as the Chanticleers rallied in the bottom of the ninth inning with three runs to defeat No. 8 seed Charleston Southern, 9-8, in Game 2 of the 2012 Big South Baseball Championship presented by Brookwood Farms BBQ and Triangle Rent A Car at Williard Stadium on the campus of High Point University. Coastal Carolina improves to 38-17 and plays No. 5 Radford on Wednesday afternoon at 4:30pm. The Buccaneers fall to 20-35 and will play No. 4 Gardner-Webb in an elimination game Wednesday morning at 9:30am.
Trailing 8-6 in their final frame, the Chanticleers' Ted Blackman reached on an error to start the inning. Jacob May and Daniel Bowman followed with singles to load the bases. After Rich Witten struck out, Alex Buccilli reached on a fielder's choice that was mishandled by Buccaneers shortstop Alex Tomasovich and allowed Blackman to score. Adam Eggnatz pinch-ran for Buccilli and Tomasovich's third error of the inning on Tucker Frawley's grounder led to May scoring the tying run. Creel followed with his game-winning hit to help the Chanticleers avoid becoming the first No. 1 seed to lose to the No. 8 seed in the history of the Big South Baseball Tournament.
Coastal Carolina has now won 12 consecutive Big South Tournament games, extending its League record.
Charleston Southern jumped out to an early 1-0 lead. Coastal starter Tyler Herb hit Bobby Ison with the first pitch of the game, and Ison moved to second on Jaren Sustar's sacrifice. After Robbie Streett flied out, Chase Shelton singled through the right side to bring home Ison for the 1-0 advantage.
The lead was short-lived, as Coastal scored twice in the bottom of the first to go ahead, 2-1. May reached on a one-out walk, moved to second on a wild pitch, and scored on an infield error after Bowman singled. Another wild pitch moved Bowman into scoring position, and Witten singled to left to plate Bowman with the Chants' second run of the day.
But the Buccaneers countered with three runs in the second to regain the lead at 4-2. Walt Quattlebaum singled to open the inning and Harrison Wilkins reached on a fielder's choice after attempting to sacrifice. An error on Blake Hunt's sacrifice allowed Quattlebaum and Wilkins to score for a 3-2 lead. Later with two outs, John Faircloth singled to right to bring home Hunt to make the score 4-2.
CSU extended its lead to 7-2 in the fifth. After a bases loaded walk made it 5-2, Wilkins drove in two runs with a line drive to center to chase Herb. New pitcher Aaron Burke induced a ground out to end the inning.
Charleston Southern starter Ryan Gunther settled down after the first inning and held Coastal scoreless until the bottom of the seventh. May struck out but reached first on the wild pitch third strike. Bowman walked, and Witten belted a three-run home run to left that made it a two-run contest at 7-5. But the Bucs added a run in the eighth, when Streett was hit-by-pitch and came around on Shelton's double.
Coastal cut the lead again in the bottom half of the eighth, when Brian Pruett singled home Frawley to make the score 8-6. Frawley had reached on a single.
Creel finished the day 3-5, while Witten had two hits and four RBI. Bowman had three hits to push his career total to 299. Burke went 5.1 innings to pick up his Big South-leading ninth win. He allowed just two hits and struck out three. Herb allowed seven runs (four earned) and a season-high nine hits in 3.2 innings.
Faircloth was 3-5 for Charleston Southern with two RBI, while Shelton and Quattlebaum tallied two hits each. Corey Deighan suffered the loss after allowing three unearned runs on four hits in one inning of work. Gunther went seven innings and had four strikeouts in the no decision.
Coastal Carolina Head Coach Gary Gilmore
"That was the ghost of Tournament's past -- that Coastal aura kind of hangs over this thing. I feel bad for (Charleston Southern's) shortstop, but it was great to see our guys battle all day. Aaron Burke has been our savior. We have lived and died with our bullpen this year. Burke was outstanding today and gave us a chance to win. From Bowman to Witten and down the line, we did what we needed to do today ... or at least we did just enough."
Charleston Southern Head Coach Stuart Lake
"I thought we played well, but we have to play better baseball to beat a team of that caliber."