HARTSVILLE, S.C. – The Coker baseball team captured their first Conference Carolinas series victory in more than two years, as the Cobras sweep the Knights of St. Andrews with a pair of wins in the conference double-header on Saturday afternoon. Coker opened the series with an 11-4 win in game one and then capped off the day with a 9-3 win in game two.
The wins improve the Cobras to 8-4 overall and 2-3 in the conference, while St. Andrews is still winless, falling to 0-9 on the year and 0-4 in the conference.
In the first game Coker started Mike Palko (Euclid, Ohio) pitched a gem to get things started for the Cobras. Palko tossed five innings of hitless baseball, allowing just one run in the opening frame before Daniel Oliver (Plymouth, N.C.) broke up the no-no with a single to center to start the sixth inning. Things got a little rocky for Palko in the sixth as he allowed three runs on three hits, but he managed to work his way out of the jam to help Coker secure the win.
The Coker hitters gave their pitchers plenty of run support; scoring a run in the first, three in the fourth, one in the fifth, two in the sixth and four in the eighth for the 11-4 win.
Palko (1-1) earned his first win of the season, allowing just four runs on three hits in sixth near perfect innings on the hill. The Knight’s Jack Crawford (Montgomery, N.Y.) took the loss, going five solid innings allowing seven runs on nine hits with five strikeouts.
At the plate for the Cobras, Jordan Buenting (Ankeny, Iowa) was 2-for-4 with two RBIs and a run scored, while Brinley Griffin (Port St. John, Fla.) was 1-for-3 with three RBIs and two runs scored. Brian Luchsinger (Farmingville, N.Y.) and Nick Fuoco (Palm Bay, Fla.) were each 2-for-5 with an RBI and a run scored, with Luchsinger hitting a triple and Fuoco a double and two stolen bases. Matt Ammons also had two hits for the Cobras including a double and two runs scored with three stolen bases.
For St. Andrews, Oliver was 2-for-3 with an RBI and a run scored, while Samson Williams (Wilmington, N.C.) was 2-for-4 with a double, an RBI and a run scored. Michael Cantwell (Burlington, N.Y.) had a RBI triple and a run scored as well for the Knights.
Game two belonged to Coker hurler Matt Long (Florence, S.C.) (4-0) the junior gave the Cobras their first complete game victory of the season, as he went the full seven innings, allowing just three runs while scattering eight hits and striking out three Knights.
St. Andrews looked to try and get things started early in game two, with Manny Williams (Wilmington, N.C.) and Samson Williams leading off the game with back to back hits, with Samson’s scoring Manny, giving the Knights an early 1-0 lead. Long battled out the inning and Coker scored the bottom half to tie the game at one. Then a five run second inning that was started by Drew Hardee’s (Rock Hill, S.C.) two-run bases loaded single, broke the game wide open for Coker.
After St. Andrews plated a run in the fifth, Coker answered with three runs in the sixth and a run in the seventh gave the Cobras the 9-3 victory.
David Carbonell (St. Charles, Ill.) (0-3) took the loss allowing nine runs on nine hits with two strikeouts in six innings of work.
Ammons and Griffin were both 2-for-3 with two RBIs, two runs scored and a stolen bases to lead the Coker offense, while Luchsinger was 2-for-4 with three RBIs. Hardee finished the game 1-for-3 with two RBIs and a run scored.
Manny Williams was the only Knight with two hits in game two, including a triple and an RBI, Samson Williams was 1-for-3 with a double and an RBI and Adrian Rivera (Staten Island, N.Y.) was also 1-for-3 with an RBI.
Coker and St. Andrews will complete their three game Conference Carolinas series on Sunday afternoon at 1:00 p.m. at Tom J. New field.