Thursday, May 26, 2011

Baseball Bonanza, Gem Included

Here we are, in the midst of the Baseball Championship tourney--full name, "The 2011 Royal Purple Big South Conference Baseball Championship Presented by Triangle Rent A Car." The event always promises a wealth of excitement and a list of storylines, but with five games completed, one stands out among the rest...keep reading, we'll get there.

All the action is happening at VMI, where a number of renovations and improvements have made Gray-Minor Stadium a solid host for this event. Play follows the same model of recent seasons, with a single-elimination first night to pare the lower four seeds to two teams, and then four days of full double-elimination bracket play.

This year that formula meant the elimination of the event host school in the very first game, a 3-1 win for Radford over VMI...always tough to lose the home team early, as it can have a tendency to deflate some of the crowd size and enthusiasm, but baseball attendance often poses a riddle in any year, given that school is out for most students anyway.

The other elimination game on Tuesday saw Gardner-Webb parade around the bases to mount a 14-4 victory against High Point. But, baseball being a fickle game, GWU got the other end of that stick the next day, when Liberty rode some home run hitting to a 13-5 win. For the Runnin' Bulldogs, the loss forces an elimination game on Thursday, while the Flames know they'll be around at least to Friday.

Like LU, Charleston Southern knows it will have at least two games ahead. CSU & Liberty will meet Thursday night, given that the Bucs dealt Winthrop a loss in a 9-3 final Wednesday.

Thursday's first game is an elimination game setting Radford against GWU...each squad won Tuesday night to stay alive, but dropped a game the next day against a higher seed. Now they face off against each other to see who's going home and who lives to play another day.

Radford got put in that game by top-seed Coastal Carolina. Well, they really got put there by star pitcher Anthony Meo, who tossed an absolute gem: the first no-hitter in Big South Conference Baseball Championship history. Now THAT earns a real SHOUT-out from us--what a remarkable performance (CCU celebration pictured). In fact, the no-no went both ways for the first four innings--neither side had mustered a hit by that point--but the Coastal bats awakened, while the Radford hitting could not find a solution for Meo's mastery. Credit CCU for the 5-0 win, and salute Meo for doing what no Big South pitcher had done before in this tournament. The Chants next draw old rival Winthrop Thursday afternoon, with a chance to eliminate the Eagles (although WU will be naturally doing all it can to prevent that outcome).

Remember, all three games on Thursday and again on Friday can be seen on the Big South Network at, while the game(s) for the Championship final on Saturday will be shown instead by

The full details of game schedules, with links to Live Stats, BSN streaming, and the tournament bracket, can all be found on the Baseball Championship page.

And, just in case you missed it, you can find the full listing of Big South Baseball All-Conference and season award honorees at

Enjoy the games, everybody--another year of competition is nearly in the books!

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

It Came From the Blog!

Many demerits and well-deserved slaps on the wrists for not having a SHOUT in this spot they say in all the movies, it's been quiet--too quiet--here lately. Time to fix that with a quick reset.

First subject: the Big South
Conference & the NCAA this spring...some nice extras this year...

WGOLF -- the Coastal Carolina women were thrilled to pull down the Big South title, but it turns out that was just the beginning, as last week the Chants nabbed fourth at the NCAA East Regional at Daytona Beach, qualifying for Nationals! CCU even managed to sit in the lead position briefly in that competition, and earned plenty of respect as the first team in school and Conference history to make the final stage of competition for the Women's Golf National Championship.

MGOLF -- the men's teams are no mere duffers either: Liberty won the Conference crown by a crushing margin and earned the Big South's automatic qualifier position for regional play, but the Flames will not be alone when the squads hit the links next week--Coastal Carolina snared an at-large selection as well, giving the Big South two MGOLF NCAA teams for only the third time. In an odd twist of fate, LU will travel out to Arizona, while CCU heads up to Virginia for the next round.

M/W TEN -- also on the calendar, we have our men's and women's champions in tennis ready for upcoming action in Knoxville--both of them...yes, unaware of what the other selection committee was up to, both the men's and women's panels sent the Big South champs to Tennessee's courts. For Radford's men, it is as a 4-seed for those pairings, and the Highlanders will indeed draw the Vols. For Winthrop's women, it is as a 3-seed, and the Eagles will see the Vanderbilt Commodores as they hope to play another day.

Meanwhile, next on the agenda: the teams still in action, trying to see if they too will have a chance at NCAA tournament play. This week, we have the softball championship at Winthrop (tonight, in fact, I will be emcee for the season awards banquet at WU). Play cranks up with six games Thursday (five at Terry Field, one on a different diamond), plus another four-to-six games on Friday (as needed), and the single-game championship final on Saturday. The Terry Field games on Thursday and Friday (5/12-13) can all be seen on the Big South Network, while Saturday's final (5/14) belongs to

Two weeks later, we'll follow a similar plan for baseball at VMI, with games running on the Big South Network from Tuesday (5/24) through Friday (5/27) and capped off by the final on Saturday (5/28) on

By the way, I don't know how long it's going to hold up, but Coastal Carolina has won four consecutive games without allowing a run -- in fact, the Chants have an overall streak of 37 consecutive shutout innings. While we're at it, let's give a SHOUT-out to CCU star pitcher Anthony Meo...all he did in his last outing was pitch eight shutout innings with a dozen strikeouts and no walks. Not too shabby, right? Wow. Coastal seems to be peaking at just about the right time. Whether Coach Gary Gilmore can get his guys to make another run to the Super Regional (or beyond) remains to be seen, but anyone who thought the Conway Kids were struggling this season should take another look.

Okay, that's good for checking in for now--should see more from SHOUT in the coming weeks, plus some summer features and bonus items once we get beyond the season. Oh, and don't forget, we have Camels in our future once we get beyond the softball and baseball championships--which will make for some interesting changes! Thanks for sticking with us...follow us on Twitter and Facebook, everybody! And that's SHOUT--out...