By: Jake Miller
HARTSVILLE, S.C.- Coker baseball dropped its South Atlantic Conference series opener with Lenoir-Rhyne 6-5 on Friday (Mar. 17).
The Bears took a 3-0 lead through two and a half innings before AJ Strnad launched his fourth homer of the year over the left field fence to get Coker on the board. The Cobras scored once in both the fourth and the fifth innings to tie the game at three apiece. A sacrifice fly from Clint Allen that scored Bryson Conner plated Coker's second run, while the tying run in the fifth scored on a Thomas Lopez single through the right side.
The Cobras were forced to play catch-up once again in the seventh when the Bears scored one in their half of the inning to take a 4-3 lead. Lake Lybrand ripped a one-out single to get the inning going for Coker, before he would race to third on a Jon Koski single through the right side. Thomas Lopez recorded the sacrifice fly that brought Lybrand home and tied the game at four. Lenoir-Rhyne would regain the lead in the top half of the eighth inning with two runs, seeing the momentum shift yet again in the ballgame. Darius Coldiron would lead off the eighth inning with a single to left center. During Conner's at-bat, Coldiron moved up to second on a wild pitch. Coldiron on second opened up just enough of a hole for Bryson Conner, whose single deflected into right field off the diving Bears second baseman allowing Coldiron to cross the plate. Coker was unable to scrape across a sixth run in the ball game, and the visitors took the opener.
Lybrand, Koski, Lopez and Coldiron each tagged two hits in the ballgame, while Strnad, Conner and Cleary each chipped in one. Cody Brown took the loss on the hill, allowing two earned runs on four hits in 2.2 innings. The right-hander struck out two in the effort. Matt Ticer got the start for the Navy and Gold, throwing 4.2 innings. The freshman allowed eight hits, three runs, two earned and issued two free passes while recording one strikeout. Griffin Hollifield made his team-leading 13th appearance late in the game, allowing two hits in 1.2 innings of scoreless relief.
The Cobras (13-9, 5-5 SAC) come back on Saturday (Mar. 18) for a twinbill with the Bears beginning with a nine-inning game starting at 12:00 p.m. and a seven-inning game slated for 3:00 p.m.
McDonald's Player of the Game- Thomas Lopez