By: Jake Miller
HARTSVILLE, S.C.- Coker baseball defeated St. Andrews in walkoff fashion 8-7 to open the season on Wednesday (Feb. 1).
Coker took a 3-0 lead to the top of third off of RBI singles from Darius Coldiron and AJ Strnad, as well as a sacrifice fly from Brooks Estrada. The Knights would respond with four funs on five hits in the top of the third.
Coker would respond in a big way in the bottom of the fourth when Bryson Conner mashed a triple to the left field fence over the head of Terrence Jackson, allowing Strnad and Ryan Wayne to score ahead of him.
Coker would hold the 6-4 lead until the seventh when the Knights would respond and tie the game yet again. Robert Lybrand, who had come on as a replacement earlier in the game toed the box with Tanner Crosby on third and two outs. Lybrand mimicked Conner's earlier extra-base hit after he sent Jackson chasing in left field with a double. Coker held the 7-6 lead going to the final frame.
Coker got the first two outs of the ninth rather quickly, and decided to go with the lefty Matt Ticer to finish off Jackson. The speedy outfielder legged out an infield single, which forced Luke Harrigan to bring on Coldiron (1-0) for the one-out save. Right fielder Lee Poteat would spoil the senior's mound debut, with a triple down the right field line to tie the game for the third time.
Estrada led off the home half of the ninth with a single to left. Clint Allen advanced the junior 90 feet with a sacrifice bunt, before Connor Cleary reached base on an error by the second baseman. After a miscommunication and a failed safety squeeze that produced the second out with no advancement, it was up to Crosby. The sophomore came up big, roping a ball to the hole at shortstop. Tiger Miller laid out and was able to corral it, but no throw was made and Estrada crossed the plate to seal the win.
Strnad, Coldiron and Crosby each tallied two hits in the win, while five other Cobras found the hit column. Forrest Arnold started on the mound for the Cobras and was lifted after three innings. Ryan Milner made his first appearance of the season in relief, scattering four hits and two runs in 3.1 innings. Griffin Hollifield also fired a solid 2.1 scoreless innings out of the pen, and Matt Ticer made his first collegiate appearance. Coldiron tossed one third of an inning allowing just one hit.
The Cobras hit the road for the first time this season when they travel to Chowan for a four-game set (Feb. 4-5). First pitch on Saturday is set for high noon.
McDonald's Player of the Game- Tanner Crosby