HARTSVILLE, S.C. – On Thursday (Apr. 25), the Coker baseball team will return to the Conference Carolinas Baseball Tournament for the first time in five years. The No. 2 seed Cobras will take on the No. 5 seed Pfeiffer Falcons in the opening round of the tournament at 3 p.m. Live stats and video of the game will be available at www.cokercobras.com.
Ranked No. 27 in the nation and No. 6 in the Southeast region, the Cobras will be looking to make their return to the tournament one to remember. Solid pitching and timely hitting have been the keys to Coker's success so far this season. The Cobras won 11 of their final 13 games to close out the regular season.
Led by seniors Tyler Witzel and Dan Meyer, along with juniors Zach Loraine and Andrew Goot the Cobra pitching staff has a 4.18 ERA with 248 strikeouts in 342.1 innings. Leading the hitters are seniors Keith Wolf and Frank Suarez, and junior Fico Kondla. As a team the Cobras are batting .305 with 112 stolen bases and 222 RBIs.
Individually, Witzel (7-4) and Meyer (5-3) have been Coker's go to starters this season. Witzel has a 4.75 ERA over 60.2 innings with 34 strikeouts, while Meyer has posted a 3.42 ERA with a team leading 62 punch outs in 76.1 innings on the mound. Holding down the bullpen are Loraine and Goot. Loraine, the Cobra closer, leads the nation in saves with 13, has an ERA of 2.91 and has fanned 46 batters in 43.1 innings. Goot (8-0) has been a middle relief expert for Coker this season, posting a 3.86 ERA with 51 strikeouts in 53.2 innings of work.
At the plate, first baseman Kondla leads the team and Conference Carolinas with a .414 batting average. He is second on the team in RBIs with 36 and he has 14 doubles, two home runs and a team leading 21 stolen bases. Second baseman Wolf has been a catalyst for the offense at the top of the order, batting .333 with five doubles, 17 RBIs and 16 stolen bases, while the catcher Suarez has been the field general both behind the plate and with his bat. Suarez leads the team in RBIs with 39 and is batting .308 for the year; defensively he has gunned out over 30 percent of the runners that have tried to steal bases.
On the other side of the field, the Pfeiffer Falcons (18-30, 11 Conf. Carolinas) enter the tournament having lost their last six straight to close out the year. During the regular season the Cobras defeated the Falcons in two of three games. Junior outfielder Jon Gray, and his league leading 11 home runs, leads the Falcons. In addition to the 11 dingers, Gray is batting .358 with 26 RBIs and 39 runs scored. On the mound senior Bryan Tuttle (3-9) leads way with a 4.48 ERA and 58 strikeouts in 70.1 innings of work.
The Conference Carolinas baseball tournament is a six-team double elimination tournament that is being played at the Burlington Royals Athletic Stadium in Burlington, N.C. April 25-28. There will be three games played each day at 11 a.m., 3 p.m. and 7 p.m. The winner of the game between Coker and Pfeiffer will advance to play the winner of the No. 3 seed King and the No. 4 seed Belmont Abbey at 7 p.m. on Friday (Apr. 26) night. The Cobras took two of three from both teams during the regular season.