Chanticleers catch fire late to douse Flames once again

Coastal Carolina opened its key Big South series versus Liberty with a 5-3 come-from-behind win Thursday night at Worthington Stadium.

The Chanticleers improve to 28-13, 10-3 in the Big South, while the Flames fall to 33-13, 10-6.

The Chants, which have won 14 straight over Liberty dating back to 2008, got a two-run double from Rich Witten as part of a three-run sixth inning, marking Witten’s team-best, sixth game-winning RBI of the season.

However, a conglomeration of CCU relief pitchers combined to pitch the five final innings without allowing a run. Aaron Burke (6-3) got the win, allowing just two hits and a walk over his 3.2 innings. Freshman Patrick Corbett came in to pitch to the final batter and, with a full count, struck out the Flames’ top hitter, Bryan Aandreud with a .386 batting average, looking to record his first career save.

Liberty scored first as Alex Close hit a leadoff home run in the bottom of the second, marking his ninth round-tripper of the season.

Coastal answered back in the fourth when Daniel Bowman hit a leadoff home run. The blast was his fifth of the season and 45th of his career to tie Mike Costanzo for third on the CCU all-time list and fourth on the Big South career list.

The Flames regained the advantage in the bottom of the fourth, scoring twice. Tyler Cox had a leadoff single and Close followed with double to left-center field. A bobble in the outfield allowed Cox to score from first. Another error put runners on first and second and the two moved up on a sacrifice bunt. Close would score on an infield single by Dalton Sype, who was 3-for-4 on the night.

The Chants erupted for three runs in the sixth to take a 4-3 lead. Jacob May started the frame with a double and Ted Blackman walked. On a double steal attempt, May was thrown out at third, putting Blackman on second. Bowman followed with an infield hit but a throwing error allowed Blackman to reach third. Alex Buccilli brought home Blackman with a single to left and Witten followed with his two-run double down the right-field line.

Coastal made it a two-run game, 5-3, in the top of the ninth. Tucker Frawley started the inning by being hit by a pitch. A sacrifice bunt moved him to second and a single by Justin Creel put runners on the corners. Coastal tried a safety squeeze twice, but Liberty relief pitcher Patrick Bankemper threw a wild pitch, allowing Frawley to score.

Josh Conway started for the Chants but only went four innings, allowing five hits and three runs with three strikeouts. After Burke, freshman Ben Smith was called upon with two out and one on in the eighth to face pinch hitter Justin Sizemore. Smith won the battle with a strikeout. Ryan Connolly and Austin Kerr started the ninth for Coastal, each allowing a single. Then with runners on second and third, Corbett recorded a fly out, putting runners on the corners, and the game-ending strikeout.

Jared Lyons suffered the loss (1-3). He allowed two hits and a run in 2.1 innings, coming in relief of starter Brooks Roy, who gave up four hits and three runs with three strikeouts.

Coastal Carolina and Liberty will play game two of the series on Friday at 7 pm. The game will be available on HTC Cable on Channel 4 locally and ESPN3 nationally.

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