HARTSVILLE, S.C.- Bryson Conner provided the game-winning walk-off single in game three, securing the South Atlantic Conference series victory on the Tusculum College Pioneers at Tom J. New Field at Dave Schmotzer Stadium on Coker's Senior Day Saturday (April 14) afternoon.
Senior shortstop Bryson Conner came to the plate in the bottom of the seventh inning of game two of Saturday's doubleheader with the bases loaded, one out and a 7-7 tie game. On a one-ball, no-strike count, Tusculum brought their entire defense in, trying to cut the run off at the plate, however Conner had other plans. Conner rocketed his third hit of the game over the Tusculum centerfielder's head, plating Lake Lybrand for the 8-7, walk-off victory on Senior Day.
With one out in the bottom of the seventh, senior third baseman Charlie Burguieres connected on his second hit of the contest starting the rally dropping a fly ball into shallow centerfield. Lybrand came in to pinch run for him and moved to second on a Matt Swiderski single up the middle. Jon Koski entered as a pinch runner for Swiderski before the Pioneers went to the bullpen for Zach Sanders. Sanders sent a wild pitch to the backstop that allowed both runners to move into scoring position, leading to Reilly Hall being intentionally walked to load the bases for Conner. Conner shot the game-winning single into center to beat the Pioneers 8-7 in his final at-bat at home as a Cobra.
Coker drew first blood with a run scored in the first inning. Hall led off with an infield single to short and moved to third as Conner hit his 10th double of the season to center. Next, Larry McCabe grounded out to short which scored Hall from third, taking the 1-0 lead.
The Navy and Gold took a 2-0 lead in the bottom of the third as Ryan Caldwell reached second on a throwing error by the Tusculum second baseman. Hall then sacrificed himself on a but to move Caldwell into scoring position or Conner. Conner roped a tailing line drive into the gap in right center, which was caught on a great play by Tusculum's right fielder. The lineout was deep enough to allow Caldwell to score extending the lead to 2-0.
The Pioneers charged back and took a 3-2 lead in the top of the fourth, but Coker tied the game in the bottom half. Connor Cleary reached on an infield single to begin the fourth and moved to second on a wild pitch. Thomas Lopez then drove the run-scoring single back up the shoot to tie the game 3-3.
Tusculum broke the bats loose in the top of the fifth, scoring four runs on three hits and a Coker error to lead 7-3. Keeping with the trend of the series, the Cobras struck back with four runs of their own to tie the game 7-7 in the bottom of the fifth.
Conner singled to center to start the charge and McCabe followed with a walk. With one out, Cleary too was walked to load the bases, which forced a pitching change from Tusculum. Lopez stood in and drew the third-straight walk that brought in a run and made it 7-4. Next, RJ Ball hit a hot shot to short, which wasn't handled cleanly, trickling into center and plated McCabe and Cleary easily to bring Coker with in a run, 7-6. Burguieres was the next batter and he sent a base-knock to right that tied the game 7-7 as Lopez touched the plate.
Nick Taylor entered in relief of Jake Moore for the Cobras in the top of the sixth and kept the Pioneers off the board for two innings to pick up the win. Taylor worded the final two innings, gave up just one hit and struck out one as well.
Michael DeVecchio was the Navy and Gold starter. The left-hander lasted 4.0 innings and relented four runs, one earned, on two hits, four walks and recorded three strikeouts. Moore worked just the fifth and surrendered three runs, one earned, on three hits and a walk.
Coker dropped the middle game of the series to Tusculum to open Saturday's doubleheader.
The Cobras scored two runs in the contest, one in the bottom of the first and once more in the third.
Later in the third, Larry McCabe crushed his third home run on the season, a solo shot way over the right centerfield wall.
Coker will next be in action on Tuesday, April 17 when they travel to take on NAIA opponent St. Andrews University at 3:00 p.m. Live-stats can be accessed by visiting www.cokercobras.com.
McDonald's Player of the Game-
Bryson Conner (3-for-4, R, 2 RBI, 2B)