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Radford and UNC Asheville advance to the Big South Tourney


Radford 6 Charleston Southern 1

DANVILLE, Va. – Alex Gregory had three hits, including a home run, and Eric Evans’ pitching led the No. 6 Radford Highlanders past No. 7 seed Charleston Southern, 6-1, in Game A of the 2008 Big South Conference Baseball Championship, May 20 at Dan Daniel Memorial Park in Danville, Va. With the victory, Radford improves to 23-30 and advances to the main double-elimination bracket of the tournament. The Highlanders will play either No. 1 seed Coastal Carolina or No. 2 seed Liberty on Wednesday, depending on the outcome of tonight’s Game B between No. 5 High Point-No. 8 UNC Asheville. Radford’s 23 wins are its most since winning 23 in 2004.

The game, which started 30 minutes late due to rain showers earlier in the day, saw Radford score first in the bottom of the first inning when Will Naylor scored on Reggie Keen’s one-out, run-scoring single to right field.

In the third inning, Charleston Southern’s Tyler Thornburg tied the ballgame at 1-1 with an opposite field home run that crept just inside the 330-foot foul pole in right field for his fifth homer of the season. In the bottom half of the third, Gregory put the Highlanders back on top, 2-1, with a solo home run to right field as well. It was Gregory’s team-leading 13th home run of the year.

Radford increased its lead to 3-1 in the fourth inning. Nick Minter singled to right to open the frame, stole second and then moved to third on Nate Toth’s groundout. He later scored on Jake Cox’ errant pickoff attempt at third base. The Highlanders tacked on two runs in the seventh stanza to jump ahead 5-1. With two outs, Gregory singled to right – his third hit of the day, and advanced to second when Keen reached on an error. Minter singled to left, scoring Gregory, and Keen later scored on Jonathan Spears’ infield hit. The Highlanders plated another run in the eighth inning for the final 6-1 margin.

Evans scattered eight hits in 8.1 innings, allowing just one earned run while striking out five. He did not walk a batter. Lefty John Lloyd relieved Evans with one out in the ninth and recorded a strikeout and ground out to end the game.

Andrew White went 7.1 innings for Charleston Southern (18-35) and allowed nine hits, six runs (three earned), seven walks and struck out four batters. Eric McGough and Brandon Roberts also saw action on the hill for the Bucs.

Keen, Minter and Spears all had two hits for the Highlanders, which finished with 10 hits on the day. Mark Perry, Nick Chinners and Taylor Black each had two hits for Charleston Southern.

Radford Head Coach Joe Raccuia
“Once again Eric Evans pitched a good game with average stuff. He competed and showed why he is important to a ballclub. Charleston Southern made some miscues that gave us a chance to get some timely hits. The Bottom line though, Eric Evans did it again. His senior year is why we have been able to do what we have done this year.”

Charleston Southern Head Coach Jason Murray
“I’m really proud of Andrew White, he pitched a heckeva game for us. I’m disappointed with the loss, but very excited about the future of Buccaneer baseball. We have a good group of freshman on the offensive side. However, pitching and defense is the key to winning at this level. Once we learn that, we will be in contention next year.”

UNC Asheville 3 High Point 2

DANVILLE, Va. – No. 8 seed UNC Asheville pushed home a run in the top of the 10th inning and Bulldog ace Alan DeRatt went the distance as Asheville defeated No. 5 seed High Point, 3-2 in 10 innings in Game B of the 2008 Big South Conference Baseball Championship, May 20 at Dan Daniel Memorial Park in Danville, Va. With the victory, UNC Asheville improves to 24-33 and advances to the main double-elimination bracket of the tournament. The Bulldogs will play No. 1 seed Coastal Carolina Wednesday morning at 11:00am. No. 6 seed Radford, which won 6-1 over No. 7 seed Charleston Southern earlier in the day, will face No. 2 seed Liberty at 3:00pm.

In the 10th, Elliott Arrington’s two out single scored Kevin Mattison with the go-ahead run. UNC Asheville becomes the second No. 8 seed ever to win a game in the Big South Baseball Championship. High Point was the first to do so in 2000. DeRatt , who is among the national leaders in ERA, hurled all 10 innings for the Bulldogs to improve his record to 8-2. He allowed 10 hits, two runs (one earned) and three walks, while striking out five – including the final batter of the game.

UNC Asheville struck first in the top of the third inning. Beau Zinman walked to open the frame. Mike Vaughn then singled to left field to move Zinman to second, and the ball got past High Point left fielder Max Fulginiti, allowing Zinman to score the game’s first run. Vaughn eventually reached third base with one out, but HPU starter Jamie Serber retired the next two batters to get out of the inning.

In the fourth inning, the Bulldogs moved ahead 2-0 when Justin Schumer drew a lead-off walk and advanced to second on Arrington’s since to right. Both runners were moved up a base on Reed Kreiser’s sacrifice, and Schumer later scored on Danny Baatz’s sacrifice fly to right field.

High Point rallied in the fifth inning to cut the deficit to 2-1. With one out, Alfie Wheeler singled to right and was moved to second on Jeff Cowan’s single through the infield. Wheeler reached third on Pablo Rosario’s fielder’s choice groundout, and then scored on Randy Schwartz’s single to right field.

Asheville threatened in the seventh inning with runners on second and third with one out. But High Point relievers RJ Chlebnikow and Bubba O’Donnell got the Panthers out of the jam. The Panthers later tied the game at 2-2 in the bottom of the eighth. Rosario walked to begin the inning, Schwartz singled to the gap in center to advance Rosario to second, and Asheville center fielder Kevin Mattison misplayed the ball, allowing Rosario to come around and score.

Arrington finished with two hits for Asheville, and now has 296 in his career. He needs four more hits to become the fourth player in Big South history with 300 career hits. Vaughn also had two hits for the Bulldogs. Cowan led High Point (20-33) with three hits on the day. O’Donnell was tagged with the loss, falling to 4-4. He allowed two hits, one run (earned) and one walk while fanning four batters in 3.1 innings of work.

UNC Asheville Head Coach Willie Stewart
“Alan DeRatt was terrific tonight. Our seniors (Kevin Mattison, Elliott Arrington and Alan DeRatt) played great – never underestimate seniors who are playing what could be their last game. I’m proud of the way our guys fought, and we look forward to playing a great Coastal team Wednesday.”

High Point Head Coach Sal Bando, Jr.
“We had our hands full with Alan DeRatt. He pitched a great game. I tip my cap off to Asheville because they did the little things a little better and that was the difference in the game. We didn’t lose because of a lack of effort and I’m proud of our guys.”

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