HIGH POINT, N.C. (www.BigSouthSports.com) - Aaron Burke pitched 4.1 innings of scoreless relief and Tripp Martin broke a 3-3 tie in the sixth inning to give No. 1 Coastal Carolina a 4-3 victory over No. 7 High Point in Game 12 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. The Chanticleers (40-17) win their bracket and advance to Saturday's "winner-take-all" Championship game against No. 3 Liberty at 4:00pm on ESPN3. High Point falls to 28-31 and is eliminated from the tournament.
Coastal took the first lead of the day with two runs in the bottom of the first. Jacob May drew a one-out walk and Daniel Bowman was hit-by-pitch to put runners on first and second. Rich Witten then drove in both runners with a double to the alley to give Coastal a 2-0 advantage. High Point starter Jacob Newberry retired the final two batters to escape any further damage.
The Chanticleers increased their lead to 3-0 in the third when Bowman singled through the left side of the infield for a hit and took third on Witten's single up the middle. Alex Buccilli followed with a single to center to plate Bowman, but Newberry induced Tucker Frawley into an inning-ending double play to keep the deficit at three.
Spencer Angelis got High Point's first hit of the day with a double to lead off the fourth inning. Josh Spano followed with a double off the wall in left center to put runners at second and third, and Sean Wilson's check-swing groundout allowed Angelis to score HPU's first run. A passed ball by Frawley brought Spano home to make it a 3-2 game.
Angelis tied the game at 3-3 in the fourth with a double to the wall that scored Dane McDermott, who singled with one out. Coastal then called upon Burke to replace starter Austin Wallace.
In the sixth inning Martin broke the tie with a hard smash off the glove of HPU third baseman Ryne Rush that scored Buccilli. Buccilli had walked to start the inning, was sacrificed to second and reached third on Justin Creel's fly out to right. High Point threatened in the ninth with runners in scoring position, but Burke induced a game-ending double play for the one-run victory.
Burke (10-5) allowed five hits and struck out two hitters in picking up his second win of the tournament. Wallace went the first 4.2 innings and allowed three runs on five hits and a walk in the no decision. The victory was Coastal's 40th of the year, its 13th 40-win season.
Bowman finished with three hits, increasing his career total to 304 and breaking school record of 303. He also broke the Big South mark of 517 career total bases as he now has 519. Witten had two hits and two RBI, giving him 16 RBI in his last nine Tournament games.
Angelis led High Point with three hits, while Rush and Ryan Retz added two each. Newberry (4-7) went the distance for the Panthers. He allowed nine hits, four runs and three walks, while striking out three.
It was the first-ever meeting between the No. 1 and No. 7 seeds in the history of the Big South baseball tournament. Coastal Carolina advances to the Big South title game for the 17th time, extending its Conference record. The Chanticleers will face Liberty in the Championship game for the seventh time.
Coastal Carolina Head Coach Gary Gilmore
"What can say about Aaron Burke -- he was phenomenal today. I am proud of Austin Wallace for gutting it out under tough conditions and battling an injury. I am very glad to get to 40 wins. I think that overall resume will be enough to get us in (the NCAAs) if we don't win tomorrow. I expect another great battle between us and Liberty."
High Point Head Coach Craig Cozart
"This team had no quit in them. We had some really tough stretches this season but we fought through and had a great tournament run. Against a team that is used to winning championships you have to take advantage of opportunities and we didn't do enough of that today. We have most of this team coming back next year and the experiences from the last four days will pay huge dividends down the road."