Chants ousted by Flames, await word on NCAA bid

After Coastal Carolina dropped a 9-8 game to Liberty Friday afternoon, the same teams turned around to play a seven-inning elimination game that evening with the Flames claiming an 8-0 victory to advance to the Big South Tournament title game Saturday at Liberty Baseball Stadium.

Coastal will now wait to see if it will claim a seventh-straight NCAA Regional berth, which will be announced Monday at Noon on ESPNU.

Liberty starter Blake Fulghum (2-1) worked out of a first-inning jam then cruised the rest of the way in the complete-game shutout. He scattered seven hits and walked five with three strikeouts. Offensively, Alex Close was impressive in the doubleheader, going 2-for-4 in both games of the doubleheader. He drove in two and scored twice in game two, while Britt Dalton was 2-for-3 with a critical two-run home run to cap a five-run fourth inning.

Ryan Connolly, who pitched the final two innings in game one of the day, turned around and started for the Chants in game two, which was his first career start. He allowed four hits, five runs and three walks with two strikeouts. While he suffered the loss, falling to 6-4, his career ERA is still 2.23, which shatters the Big South career mark of 2.52 that former teammate Anthony Meo posted from 2009-11.

Coastal put up the first threat, loading the bases in the first with one out. However, Fulghum got a foul out and strikeout to end the inning.

Liberty erupted for five runs in the fourth. Ryan Cordell drew a leadoff walk, stole second and scored on Trey Wimmer’s single to left. Danny Grauer walked and a sacrifice bunt moved Wimmer and Grauer up 90 feet. After a pop out, Alex Close delivered a two-out, two-run single to left. Dalton Britt then cleared the bases with a two-run home run to right field.

The Flames pushed their advantage to 6-0 in the fifth. Wimmer walked, took third on a Grauer single and scored on a Bryan Aanderud single.

In the seventh, Close hit a leadoff single, moved to second on a single and took third on a sacrifice bunt. Ashton Perritt lined out to center, but it was deep enough to score Close for a 7-0 lead.

Liberty wrapped the contest with a run in the seventh. Grauer singled, took second on a ground out and scored Justin Sizemore’s single to center.

Ted Blackman and Alex Buccilli each went 2-for-3 to pace the CCU offense.

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