HARTSVILLE, S.C.- The Coker College baseball team fell victim to the visiting Wingate University Bulldogs, the 18th ranked team in the country at Tom J. New Field at Dave Schmotzer Stadium on Friday (March 16) afternoon. The Cobras pushed across 10 runs in the game and presented the tying run at the plate with bases loaded in the ninth. Coker dropped the series opener to Wingate 14-10.
With the bases loaded and one out, Coker's Tanner Crosby represented the tying run in the bottom of the ninth before grounding out into the game-ending double play. The Cobras were relentless in their attack, attempting to charge back constantly on the Bulldogs, who kept their lead intact.
Trailing 9-0, Coker used a six-run fourth inning to jump back into the game. The Navy and Gold sent nine batters to the plate in the inning, amounting for six runs on six hits. Senior shortstop Bryson Conner led the charge with a leadoff triple to right center. Brooks Estrada then singled Conner home on a single up the shoot as KJ Curry did the same to follow. Connor Cleary was plunked to load the bases and Thomas Lopez singled through the left side to bring in Estrada. Tanner Crosby then cranked a double to left center scoring two more runs before drawing a pitching change from the Bulldogs. The move didn't faze Lake Lybrand, who then singled up the middle scoring Lopez to bring Coker within three, 9-6 going to the fifth.
Wingate continued to provide an answer to Coker's attacks, scoring a run in the sixth. Though, the Cobras worked more in the sixth bringing home two more runs. After back-to-back walks issued to Lopez and Crosby, Wingate made the call to the bullpen again. The walks were the first given up by the Bulldogs to that point. It was the second time Wingate made a pitching change before facing Lybrand again. Lybrand flew out to right, but it was an effective out as Lopez moved over to third after tagging up. Next, Reilly Hall sent a RBI single up the middle. On the play, Crosby moved over to third on a fielding error by the Wingate centerfielder. With runners on the corners and one out, Matt Swiderski lifted a sacrifice fly to center, scoring Crosby to make it a 10-8 game.
Wingate put two more runs on the board with single runs in the seventh and eighth. The Navy and Gold again, pushed back with a pair of runs in the home half of the eighth.
Lopez drew his second walk to lead off the inning and moved to third after a one-out double from Lybrand. After another Bulldog pitching change, Head Coach Luke Harrigan also made a strategic move, putting in back-to-back pinch hitters. With two outs and runners in scoring position, Michael Serafin stroked a base hit through the left side to score both Lopez and Lybrand. The two-out RBI single made it a 12-10 contest.
Wingate scratched across runs in the ninth, pulling ahead 14-10 over Coker, to where the game would hold.
Six Navy and Gold batters had a multi-hit game to include Reilly Hall (2-for-4, RBI), Bryson Conner (2-for-5, 3B), Brooks Estrada (2-for-4, RBI, R), Connor Cleary (2-for-4, 2B, R), Thomas Lopez (2-for-3, 3 R, RBI, 2 BB), and Lake Lybrand (2-for-4, 2B, RBI, R).
The Cobras and Bulldogs will play in a doubleheader on Saturday with the second game (nine-innings) in the series scheduled for a 12:00 p.m. start. The series finale and the second game of the doubleheader (seven-innings) will start approximately 30 minutes after the conclusion of the first game. Video and live-stats can be found by visiting www.cokercobras.com.
Tickets for the games will be available at the gate, $5 for adults, $3 for students, and free to all faculty, staff and students.
McDonald's Player of the Game-
Thomas Lopez (2-for-3 |3 R | RBI | 2 BB)