Coastal’s Smith handcuffs Liberty on national TV

Coastal Carolina scored once in the first and four times in the eighth to claim a 5-1 victory over Liberty on Saturday afternoon before a national ESPNU television audience at Pelicans Ballpark.

The Chanticleers improve to 18-12 overall, 5-2 in the Big South and run their streak to 18 consecutive wins over the Flames (17-13, 6-4) dating back to 2008. The teams will play game two of the series on Sunday at 7:30 pm, which is a change from the original schedule. The series concludes Monday at Noon.

Ben Smith (3-1) pitched a career-high eight innings. The sophomore scattered four hits but walked six with two strikeouts. He did allow one unearned run. For the second time in three games, Alex Buccilli delivered the game-winning RBI – the ninth in his two-year career – with a two-run double in the eight to break a 1-1 stalemate. Will Remillard added two RBI as well.

Coastal got on the scoreboard first. Ted Blackman and Jacob May started the bottom of the first with consecutive walks. Buccilli moved the two up 90 feet with a sacrifice bunt and Will Remillard drove in Blackman with a sacrifice fly to left field.

Liberty tied the game in the top of the sixth thanks to a CCU error. With one out, Trey Wimmer walked and Danny Graurer singled. Nick Paxton reached on a fielder’s choice. However, on the play, a throwing error allowed Wimmer to score.

Liberty starter Carson Herndon (3-3) was the tough-luck loser. He allowed two hits and two runs with three walks and a strikeout in 7.1 innings. In fact, after allowing Coastal’s first run, Herndon retired 19 of his next 21.

However, in the eighth innings, Zach Remillard drew a leadoff walk and moved to second on a Nick Oberg sac bunt. Two batters later, May was intentionally walked with two outs and Buccilli responded with his two-run double. Liberty centerfielder Bryan Aanderud nearly may an impressive diving catch in the right-center field on Buccilli’s hit, but he could not hold on as he laid out diving for the ball. W. Remillard followed with an RBI double and, after Colin Hering walked, scored when Jake Kane reached on an infield hit combined with a throwing error on the play.

Liberty but runners on first and third in the ninth before Patrick Corbett got Ryan Cordell to fly out to left-center field to end the contest.

Even though there were only 11 hits between the two teams, 12 combined walks led to Liberty leaving 10 runners stranded and Coastal stranded six.

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