Landmark LU season ends in BSC semis
Longwood baseball’s milestone-filled 2016 season came to an end in the Big South Championship semifinals as top-seeded Coastal Carolina eliminated the third-seeded Lancers 5-1 Friday afternoon in Lexington, S.C.
Playing for the fourth consecutive day having topped second-seeded High Point 18-13 in a wild 47-hit elimination game Thursday, Longwood fell into an early 3-0 hole to the well-rested, eventual Big South champion Chanticleers (44-15) and never climbed out.
The Lancers, who advanced to the Big South semifinals for the second time in just four years as a member of the conference, ended their second season under Head Coach Ryan Mau with a Division I-record 32 wins and became the first 30-win Longwood team since 2007. Included in their season résumé was a 14-10 Big South record that tied for the second best in the conference, a 21-7 home record and a program-best three seed in the Big South Championship.
“It’s not just one day, but it was the entire body of work this year that we’ll focus on, and I think it puts people on alert that Longwood baseball is a program on the rise,” Mau said. “We’re going to make some noise in this conference. We’re definitely heading in the right direction.”
Longwood was the final roadblock in the Chanticleers’ path to their 19th Big South Championship game, of which they have won 14.
Lancer ace and team captain Travis Burnette (8-2) returned on just two days’ rest for his collegiate swan song, yielding three runs in 3.2 innings to Coastal Carolina after firing 6.1 innings of one-run ball in the tournament-opening 8-6 win over sixth-seeded Winthrop Tuesday. He scattered six hits — five singles — Friday before reliever Devin Gould came on to throw 3.2 innings of two-run ball out of the bullpen.
Senior first baseman Connar Bastaich provided Longwood’s lone run of the day with a solo home run in the fourth inning. Bastaich was 2-for-4 at the plate with a home run and a double.
The senior class of Bastaich, Burnette, C.J. Roth, Colton Konvicka and Allen Ellis leaves Longwood as the final group of players to play under longtime coach Charles “Buddy” Bolding and the first group to have played four seasons at Longwood in the Big South. The 2016 Lancers had the most wins by a Longwood team in a season since the 34-win 2007 team, which was not yet a full-fledged Division I-eligible squad.