HICKORY, N.C.- The Coker College baseball team utilized 13 runs on 14 hits cruising to their final South Atlantic Conference series opening win of the 2018 campaign. Griffin Hollifield provided seven complete innings, while the Navy and Gold's offense held up its end of the bargain, outscoring the Lenoir-Rhyne Bears 13-7 on Friday (April 20) night.
Trailing 2-0 leading into the fifth inning, Coker flipped a switch at the plate and started to abuse the Lenoir-Rhyne pitching staff. The Cobras pushed four runs across in the inning to take a 4-2 lead that was started by a leadoff walk issued to Charlie Burguieres. Tanner Crosby then reached first on a sacrifice bunt, fielder's choice, as the throw eliminated Burguieres at second. Next, Reilly Hall also drew a walk before Bryson Conner reached on a fielder's choice and all runners were safe after an error by the Bears' third baseman. With the bases loaded, Larry McCabe drove in his lone RBI on the night with a sacrifice fly to left field to bring the score to 2-1. Before Brooks Estrada could draw the third walk of the inning, Bryson Conner stole second, which garnered a throw down that allowed Crosby to score from third to tie the game 2-2. With runners on first and second, Connor Cleary beat out an infield single to second to load the bases. Thomas Lopez then stepped in and gave the Cobras the 4-2 lead with a two-run base hit back up the middle. Matt Swiderski was issued the fourth walk of the inning before a pitching change and the final out of the fifth was recorded.
The Bears got a run back in the bottom half, but the Cobras continued to press the gas pedal to the floor, scoring six more runs in the sixth inning. Crosby led off the charge with a single to center, followed by Hall reaching on a throwing error on a sacrifice bunt attempt to put runners on the corners. Next, Conner singled to right that scored Crosby, and McCabe was hit by a pitch to load the bases. Estrada stood in and earned his second walk of the contest to bring in another Coker run, before Lenoir-Rhyne went to the bullpen again. After the change, Cleary too was walked to make it a 7-3 contest. Thomas Lopez recorded the first out of the inning, but it proved to be productive as his flyout to center scored McCabe on the sacrifice. Swiderski was then walked to re-load the bases, which drew another pitching change before Burguieres lashed a base hit to right field to score Estrada. Next, Crosby reached on a single to center and plated Cleary, before Swiderski was thrown out a third for the second out. Hall also earned a free-pass on a walk before the last out of the inning, as Coker took the lead 10-3.
Lenoir-Rhyne tried to claw back with a run in the sixth, but again the Cobras responded, this time with three runs in the top half of the seventh. McCabe started the rally off with a triple to left and scored on Estrada's run-scoring single to the same destination. Next, Cleary added a base hit to the tally to put runners on first and second. With one out, Swiderski beat out an infield base hit to no-man's land behind the mound a third to load the bases for Burguieres. Burguieres provided only the second extra base hit from the Navy and Gold on Friday night with a double down the line in right plating two, putting Coker on top 13-4.
Lenoir-Rhyne, again would attempt a comeback, but Coker starter Griffin Hollifield (4-3) held the Bears in-check. Hollifield spun 7.0 hard, complete innings and surrendered six runs, all earned, on nine hits with two walks and three strikeouts. Jake Moore wrapped up the final two innings of work, allowing a single run on three hits and struck out two.
The Cobras and Bears will square off in a doubleheader on Saturday, April 21 with game one's first pitch coming at 1:00 p.m. Video and live-stats can be found by visiting www.cokercobras.com.