MYRTLE BEACH, S.C. - Down a run with only two outs to go in an elimination game at the 2010 NCAA Myrtle Beach Regional, Coastal Carolina senior Rico Noel hit a walk-off two-run homer off the left field foul pole to give the Chanticleers (54-8) an 8-7 victory over College of Charleston (44-18) and force a winner-take-all championship game at 1:00 p.m. Monday afternoon at BB& T Coastal Field for a spot in the NCAA Super Regionals.
Charleston got on the board first, scoring two runs in the top of the second. Senior Greg Blake (Westerly, R.I./Westerly) recorded the first run on a solo round-tripper over the right field fence and junior DH Kolby Epley (Yadkinville, N.C./Forbush) followed with a single through the left side. Junior RF Hutson Dodds (Charleston, S.C./Porter Gaud) advanced Epley to second on another hit through the left side and junior SS Jamie Holler (Rock Hill, S.C./USC Sumter JC) earned the RBI single, giving the Cougars a 2-0 lead. The rally was stopped short as senior 2B Joey Bergman (Jacksonville, Fla./Bishop Kenny) hit into a double play at first base to end the inning.
The Chanticleers came back to tied the game at 2-2 in the bottom of the third. Taylor Motter started things off for Coastal with a double down the right field line. Adam Rice put two runners on base for the Chanticleers after striking out, but reached first on a wild pitch. Both runners advanced on a wild pitch and Noel drove in both runners on a double to left field. The Chants took the lead in the bottom of fifth off a Motter solo shot to left field, giving Coastal the 3-2 advantage.
CofC tied the game back up in the top of the sixth with an RBI single by Dodds to center field, bringing in sophomore LF Jose Rodriguez (Hialeah, Fla./Broward College), who reached base on a walk. The Cougars regained a two-run lead in the top of the seventh. Junior CF Cole Rakar (Mt. Pleasant, S.C./Wando) started things off with a single to left field and redshirt-sophomore C Rob Kral (Randolph, N.J./Randolph) put runners at the corners with a hit through the right side. Sophomore 3B Matt Leeds (Boca Raton, Fla./American Heritage) recorded a sacrifice fly to bring in Rakar. Rodriguez drove in the second run on a double to right field.
The RBI by Leeds was his 88th of the season, surpassing Chris Campbell's 87 RBIs in 2005 for the all-time single-season mark in both the College of Charleston record book and for the Southern Conference .
Coastal answered back in the bottom of the seventh and took the lead back with three runs. Motter started the rally off for the Chants with a dinger to left field. Following the home run, College of Charleston committed three back-to-back-to-back errors putting Rice and Scott Woodward at first and second. Noel kept things going after beating out the throw on a bunt, sending Rice home to tie the game at 5-5. Coastal took the lead on a Jose Iglesias groundout, scoring Woodward.
The lead did not last long as Bergman slammed a two-run home run over the scoreboard in left center in the top of the eighth to give the Cougars a 7-6 lead.
Trailing by a run in the bottom of the ninth, Scott Woodward drew a one-out walk to start the rally. He stole second to advance into scoring position and scored on Noel's dramatic blast.
Matt Rein started on the mound for the Chanticleers, pitching 5.2 innings, scattering eight hits with five strikeouts. Matt Laney earned the win for Coastal and retired the only batter he saw in the top of the ninth inning. Noel led the offensive charge for the Chants with four hits and five runs-batted-in. Motter hit a pair of home run among his three hits for Coastal.
Senior reliever Owen Brittle (Cross, S.C./Florence Darlington Tech) took the loss for the Cougars, giving up the game-winner to Noel. Offensively, Bergman drove in a pair of runs, while Rodriguez, Epley, Dodds and Holler recorded multi-hit performances.