ORANGEBURG, S.C.- The Coker College baseball team used a six-run ninth inning to win 8-5 in come-from-behind fashion against the Claflin University Panthers at Mirmow Field in Orangeburg, S.C. on Wednesday (Feb. 21) afternoon. The non-conference, mid-week tilt victory handed Coker their ninth win on the season, having now secured eight wins in a row.
Heading into the top of the ninth inning, Coker (9-1) trailed Claflin (1-10) 5-2. The Cobras used a surge of six runs in the inning to pick up their eighth straight victory, and their ninth overall on the season.
After Clafin made a pitching change to begin the inning, with one out, Coker rallied for five hits, starting with Bryson Conner sending a line drive double to left center field. The double is Conner’s 38th of his Coker career, tying him for first place all-time in program history. Next, Michael Serafin pinch hit for KJ Curry and reached on a error, scoring Conner and moving to second. With the score 5-3 and one out, Larry McCabe singled to bring in Serafin, putting the Navy and Gold within a run of the Panthers. RJ Ball then doubled to right to put runners on the corners. Brooks Estrada kept his clutch hitting coming, driving in McCabe from third to tie the game, again putting runners on the corners. After Connor Cleary was walked to load the bases, Matt Swiderski put the Cobras ahead 7-5 with a 2 RBI single. With Richard Westbury at the plate, both Cleary and Swiderski stole second and third to move into scoring position. With two outs, both runners were able to advance on a wild pitch, as Cleary’s run pushed Coker’s lead to 8-5 moving to the bottom of the ninth.
The Cobras took the early lead in the top of the fifth as Swiderski singled up the middle to start things off. After a Jon Koski sacrifice bunt moved Swiderski into scoring position, Conner pushed an opposite-field double to right, scoring Swiderski.
In the sixth, the Navy and Gold took a 2-0 lead on an RJ Ball home run. The solo shot was Ball’s second round-tripper of the season, and Coker’s fourth homerun overall.
Claflin struck back for a run in the sixth, three in the seventh, and one in the eighth, before Coker eventually took the game from the Panthers in the ninth.
The Cobras racked up 13 hits on the afternoon, as six players had a multi-hit game. Conner, McCabe, Ball, Estrada, Cleary, and Swiderski all had two hits each and at least a run scored, with Ball being the exception, scoring twice.
Cody Brown took the scheduled two-inning start for the Cobras, picking up two strikeouts. Next, Derek Roy took the bump for the next 3.0 innings, allowing just one hit and struck out five.
Drake Adams put in 1.1 innings of work, relenting two runs, one earned on two hits and a strikeout. Drake Knight entered for two-thirds of an inning, and gave up three runs, just one earned, on three hits and a walk.
Jake Moore (1-0) picked up his first win of the season, tossing the final 2.0 innings with the Panthers getting just two hits, and struck out one.
Coker will next take on the Catawba College Indians in South Atlantic Conference play on Friday and Saturday (Feb. 23-24) at Catawba. Friday is a scheduled, single, nine-inning game with first pitch at 6:00 p.m. Saturday’s doubleheader is scheduled for game one (nine-innings) at 1:00 p.m. and 4:00 p.m. (seven-innings). Results from the game can be found by visiting www.cokercobras.com.