By: Jake Miller
HARTSVILLE, S.C.- Coker baseball dropped its doubleheader on Sunday (Apr. 23) to UNC Pembroke.
Coker dropped game one 8-0 and fell in heartbreaking fashion in game two 2-1.
Robert Lybrand and Clint Allen each recorded hits in the game one loss. Griffin Hollifield (2-2) took the loss in the opener, allowing four runs, three earned on four hits over three innings. The sidewinder walked two and struck out one. Brady Shuey threw 3.1 innings of relief, allowing four earned runs on four hits while walking two and ringing up one. Joey Carpenter fired 0.2 innings of hitless relief in the loss as well.
Game two was a pitcher's duel that came down to key plays at key moments. Coker struck first in the home half of the first inning, using spotty command from UNC Pembroke's starter. Conner grinded out a walk to open the inning, before stealing second during the at-bat of AJ Strnad. Strnad struck out in the at-bat, but not before wearing 11 pitches out of his opponent. Darius Coldiron was hit by a pitch, before Thomas Lopez drew a walk to load the bases with just one out. A mound visit for the Braves preceded Jon Koski's at-bat, before the sophomore ripped the first pitch he saw through the right side to score Conner and get Coker on the board. UNC Pembroke tied the game in their half of the third, and after that both pitchers traded goose eggs.
The top of the seventh would see the Braves break through against Coker starter Cody Brown. A leadoff walk to pinch hitter Lucas Ledford, followed by a pair of wild pitches and a walk to nine-hole man Nick Salisbury saw UNCP put runners at the corners with no one out. Salisbury eventually stole second, before Brown got a strikeout for the first out of the inning. Luke Jackson lined a ball to Allen in left field, and he made the catch and unleashed a one-hop strike to the plate. The ball took a bounce on catcher Scott Burnley, allowing the Braves to break the tie. Brown was lifted for Hollifield, who had an interesting one out to get. As the sophomore delivered to the plate, Salisbury dashed for home, and was caught when Burnley came up with the pitch clean. A run-down ensued, where the Braves runner was caught and tagged to end the inning.
The Coker seventh started with some promise, as Burnley led off with a hard-hit single to third base. Tanner Crosby was then called upon to pinch hit. Crosby laid down a sacrifice bunt, but reached on a base hit with Burnley reaching second safely. Lybrand was then called upon to pinch hit, and laid down a successful sacrifice bunt to move the tying run to third and the winning run to second with just one out. That was as far as they would get, as UNC Pembroke was able to secure the win from there on out.
Koski, Burnley, Crosby and Dan McGill each recorded hits in the loss. Despite getting the loss, Brown hurled 6.2 strong innings for the Navy and Gold. The junior allowed two hits and two earned runs, while walking six and punching out a season-high 11. Hollifield recorded one out in relief in his second appearance of the day.
The Cobras (22-22, 12-12 SAC) conclude the regular season and now prepare for the South Atlantic Conference tournament. The sixth-seeded Cobras will take on the seven seed, the Carson-Newman Eagles Thursday night (Apr. 27) at Smokies Stadium in Kodak, Tenn. at 7:00 p.m.
McDonald's Player of the Game- The 2017 Senior Class