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Chants win 2008 Conway Regional

June 2, 2008

Powered by 21 hits by nine players, top seed Coastal Carolina dismantled second seed East Carolina 24-11 in the 2008 NCAA Baseball Conway Regional Championship Sunday, June 1 at Watson Stadium/Vrooman Field. With the win, the Chanticleers advance to the NCAA Super Regionals for the first time in program history as well as reached the 50-win mark for the third time in the last four seasons. Coastal will face No. 2 national seed North Carolina in the Super Regional as the Tar Heels won the Cary Regional by defeating UNC Wilmington 7-3 on Sunday.

In front of a Watson Stadium/Vrooman Field record-setting crowd of 2,320, the Chants' 24 runs set a new program record for the most runs scored in an NCAA Regional game and is tied for the third-most scored in a single game in their Division I history dating back to 1985. 

The Coastal offense got started from the get-go. After redshirt junior Dock Doyle sent a two-out double down the right field line, junior David Anderson smashed a two-run shot over the left field wall to give the Chants a 2-0 advantage in the first inning.

However, East Carolina took the 4-2 lead with back-to-back home runs from Corey Kemp and Brandon Henderson. Harrison Eldridge started the Pirate offense with a walk and then with one out, Stephen Batts reached base on catcher's interference. In the next at-bat, Kemp sent a three-run shot to left field. Henderson followed on the next at-bat with another home run.

Coastal's bats came alive in the second with the Chants scoring 13 runs off seven hits. It was the first 10-or-more run inning for Coastal since posting 10 in the second inning against George Mason in the INN-vitational Feb. 19, 2006. In NCAA Championship history, Coastal's 13 runs is the second most to be recorded in a single inning. Louisiana State University holds the record as it scored 18 in the seventh inning against Georgia Tech May 26, 1998.

A Tyler Bortnick walk started the offensive power. With one out, Bortnick moved to second off an infield single by freshman Rico Noel. Freshman Scott Woodward drove in Bortnick from second with a hit through the right side, which also advanced Noel to third. Junior David Sappelt had an infield single that loaded up the bases for Doyle, who in turn walked and allowed Noel to score the game-tying run and even the score at 4-4. Woodward put Coastal up 5-4 when he scored off a wild pitch.

Coastal's offense continued as senior Tommy Baldridge walked in the next at-bat. Baldridge moved to second off an Adam Rice single through the left side and then scored as Bortnick singled through the left side in his second at-bat of the inning. Meanwhile, Rice advanced to second on Bortnick's single. Redshirt sophomore Chance Gilmore hit into a fielder's choice, but a critical East Carolina miscue allowed Bortnick to reach second safely and loaded up the bases for Noel. The bases remained full after Noel hit into a fielder's choice, while Rice scored on a throwing error and gave CCU a 10-4 lead. A bases loaded walk by Woodward allowed for Bortnick to cross home plate. Sappelt emptied the bases in his next at-bat with a grand slam to center field to make it a 15-4 game. blasted a three-run shot to the corner of The Rooster's Nest in right field that gave the Chants an 8-4 advantage.

The Chanticleers increase their lead in the third. Baldridge began the inning with a single up the middle. With two outs, Gilmore was hit by a pitch. Noel's infield single loaded up the bases for Woodward, who was also hit by a pitch and resulted in Baldridge scoring.

East Carolina attempted to close the gap with a four-run third inning. Kemp led off with a single through the left side. Although Henderson struck out in the next at-bat, Kemp advanced to second on a wild pitch on the same play. Dustin Harrington's single to left center drove in Kemp cut the deficit down to nine. A Kyle Roller single through the right side advanced Harrington one base. Ryan Wood loaded up the bases with a walk. Drew Schieber drove in both Harrington and Roller and allowed for Wood to reach third as Coastal held a 14-7 lead. Wood pulled the Pirates to within six as he cross home plate off an Eldridge single.

Coastal's bats remained hot as the Chants combined for eight runs in the fourth, fifth and sixth innings to eventually take a 24-8 lead. Coastal put up five during the fourth inning with a two-run double by Bortnick and a three-run home run by Gilmore. Doyle started the inning with a single up the middle and then advanced to second as Baldridge hit a one-out single through the left side. A Rice walk loaded up the bases for Bortnick, who sent his double to left field and scored both Doyle and Baldridge. Gilmore cleared the bases with his round-tripper that tucked just inside of the left field foul pole as Coastal took a 19-8 lead.

Baldridge had a two-out, solo shot to right center during the fifth inning. Meanwhile, Coastal's two runs in the sixth inning came as East Carolina committed back-to-back errors. Gilmore opened the inning with a single up the middle, but was out at second as Noel hit into a fielder's choice. Woodward was hit by a pitch to place runners at first and second for Coastal. As Sappelt reached on a throwing error, Woodward advanced to third and Noel scored. Woodward crossed home plate as Doyle reached first on a fielding error.

The Pirates chipped away at Coastal's advantage with runs coming in the sixth and eighth innings. Wood had a solo shot to left field in the sixth. In the eighth, Eldridge and Ray both had RBI hits. With one out, Roller walked and then moved to second on a Wood single to left field. Eldridge sent a two-out double down the right field line that scored Roller. Jamie Ray hit a single to left field in the next at-bat that allowed for Wood to score from third to make it at 24-11 game in favor of Coastal. 

Anderson (6-2) received the win after pitching 1.2 innings and allowing four runs off four hits. Josh Ruhlman (4-4) took the loss after giving up eight runs - five earned - off five hits.

Baldridge led all batters with four hits and four runs, while Woodward batted .750 and was 3-for-4 from the plate. Anderson registered a game-best five RBI. Meanwhile, Wood was 3-for-3 with three runs for the Pirates.