By: Jake Miller
HARTSVILLE, S.C.- Coker baseball swept Lenoir-Rhyne in Saturday's (Mar. 18) doubleheader to win the South Atlantic Conference series two games to one.
Coker used a complete game shutout from Forrest Arnold to win game one 11-0 and took game two 5-4.
The Cobras put up four runs in each of the first two innings en route to the shutout victory. Coker would score once in the fifth and twice in the seventh to add on to the cushion for Arnold. AJ Strnad went 3-5 scoring three runs, while Lake Lybrand, Thomas Lopez, Darius Coldiron and Bryson Conner each recorded two hits. Jon Koski and Tanner Crosby each added one hit in the win. Arnold (3-0) shined in the win, going the distance on the mound. The senior allowed five hits and four walks while punching out seven in his complete-game shutout effort. The Coker defense was able to help Arnold out, avoiding allowing a run in a bases-loaded, two-out jam in the fifth and also turning two double plays.
Game two saw Coker take a 1-0 lead in the first on Strnad's fifth homer of the year, a towering long ball that sailed into the woods beyond left field of Tom J. New Field at Dave Schmotzer Stadium. The Bears took a one-run lead scoring twice in the top of the third, before the Cobras would jump back on top with another long ball, this time off the bat of Conner. The junior's first bleacher creature of the season put Coker back in front 3-2 until Brooks Estrada padded the lead scoring on a Lenoir-Rhyne passed ball the following inning. The Bears knotted everything up at four in the top of the fifth, setting the stage for a dramatic final two innings. After Connor Cleary drew a one-out walk and the second out was recorded, it was up to Lake Lybrand. The freshman stepped in and poked a seeing-eye single back up the middle. The ball stayed down on the Bears center fielder and rolled into deep center field, allowing Cleary to touch them all and score the go-ahead run with Lybrand getting to third easy. That run would be enough to get the Cobras the series-clinching win.
Strnad and Lybrand each chalked up two hits in the win, along with Coldiron, Conner and Clint Allen each notching one hit. Griffin Hollifield (2-0) earned the win in relief, firing three shutout innings allowing one hit, one walk and punching out two. Coldiron got the start in the third game, allowing four earned runs on eight hits over four innings. The right-hander did not surrender a walk and struck out three.
The Cobras (15-9, 7-5 SAC) will travel to St. Andrews on Wednesday (Mar. 22) for a non-conference tilt with first pitch at 3:00 p.m.
McDonald's Player of the Game- Forrest Arnold