MYRTLE BEACH, S.C. - Senior 1B Greg Blake (Westerly, R.I./Lake City CC) hit a three-run double to key a five-run seventh inning and junior RHP Casey Lucchese (Lexington, Ky./Paul Lawrence Dunbar) tossed 2-2/3 shutout innings in relief to earn the victory as College of Charleston knocked off #4 Coastal Carolina 10-4 in non-conference action at BB&T Coastal Field Tuesday night. The Cougars reach the 40-win plateau for the first time since the 2006 season at 40-14, while the Chanticleers fall to 45-7.
The Cougars jumped on Coastal starter Jim Birmingham early, scoring three runs in the top of the first and sending the pitcher to the bench after recording only two outs. With junior CF Cole Rakar (Mt. Pleasant, S.C./Wando) on first after a base on balls and two outs, sophomore 3B Matt Leeds (Boca Raton, Fla./American Heritage) drew a walk on six pitches and sophomore LF Jose Rodriguez (Hialeah, Fla./Broward College) plated Rakar with a RBI single through the left side. Blake was hit by a pitch to load the bases and junior DH Kolby Epley (Yadkinville, N.C./Forbush) roped a two-run single to right for a 3-0 lead and sent Birmingham to the bench in favor of fellow LHP Matt Laney. It was the second straight game in which the opposing starter did not make it out of the first inning against the Cougars' potent lineup.
Coastal plated a single run in the bottom of the frame, as Rico Noel led off with a double to left, advanced to third on a groundout and scored on a RBI single up the middle by Tommy La Stella. Charleston restored the three-run cushion with a run in the top of the second. Junior SS Jamie Holler (Rock Hill, S.C./USC Sumter JC) lined a double down the left-field line to start the inning and scored when senior 2B Joey Bergman (Jacksonville, Fla./Bishop Kenny) hit a double of his own down the line in right field.
The Chants would pull within two runs in the fourth on a sacrifice fly by Adam Rice and knot the game in the fifth on back-to-back solo home runs by Josh Conway and Rico Noel.
With two outs and Bergman on first, redshirt-sophomore C Rob Kral (Randolph, N.J./Randolph) and Leeds drew walks to load the bases for Rodriguez. The left fielder was hit on the third pitch from Coastal reliever Matt Rein to score Bergman for a 5-4 lead. Blake stepped to the plate and cleared the bases with a three-run double to center and senior PH Justin Brewer (Greer, S.C./Spartanburg Methodist College) plated Blake with a single to left center for a 9-4 advantage.
After back-to-back doubles by Holler and Bergman to lead off the eighth, Rakar grounded out to short and Kral was intentionally walked to set up the possible double play scenario. Leeds countered with a sacrifice fly to deep left center, scoring Holler from third for a 10-4 lead.
Lucchese was superb in relief of Charleston junior starter Josh Salay (Rock Hill, S.C./Spartanburg Methodist College) to improve to 3-0 on the season. The junior only needed 29 pitches to retire nine Coastal batters, five on strikes, and allowed only one hit. Salay tossed 5-1/3 innings, scattering five hits and allowing four runs with three strikeouts. Junior RHP Heath Hembree (Cowpens, S.C./Spartanburg Methodist College) tossed a perfect ninth, striking out two to close the door on the Chants. Bergman finished with three hits, two doubles, while Holler added two doubles as well.
Keith Hessler took the loss for Coastal, allowing two runs on one hit in 1-2/3 innings of relief. Birmingham was tagged for three runs on two hits with two walks in two-thirds of an inning. Noel had two hits for the Chants.
The Cougars return to action with a non-conference tilt at UNC Wilmington Thursday night. First pitch is scheduled for 6:00 p.m.