CONWAY, S.C. – Coastal Carolina baseball split Saturday’s Sun Belt Conference doubleheader with the Georgia Southern Eagles, taking game one by a score of 9-7 and dropping game two 13-12, as the Chants’ comeback bid fell short in the nightcap at Springs Brooks Stadium.
With the split, the Chants move to 24-16-1 overall, 9-8 in Sun Belt play and 5-5 in doubleheaders this season.
Game 1: Coastal Carolina 9, Georgia Southern 7
Coastal Carolina hit three home runs and scored two runs in the bottom of the eighth to hold off the Georgia Southern Eagles for the 9-7 game one win on Saturday afternoon.
The Chants saw a 7-1 lead evaporate over the seventh and eighth innings but plated two runs in the bottom half of the eighth to hold on for the two-run win and to even the series up at 1-1.
The win snapped the Chanticleers’ four-game losing streak, its longest of the season.
Offensively, Kieton Rivers (2-for-5, 2 HR, 3 RBIs, 2 runs) and Parker Chaver (2-for-3, HR, BB, RBI, 2 runs, SB) combined for three home runs, while Mike Koenig (2-for-4, RBI) also had two base hits in the win. Cory Wood (1-for-3, 2B, BB, RBI, run) and Cameron Pearcey (1-for-4, 2B, SF, 2 RBIs, run) each had a double for the game.
Rivers’ two home runs mark the second time this season that the senior outfielder has hit two home runs in the same game, accomplishing the feat back on March 27 at home versus UNCW.
For the Eagles, catcher Christian Avant (3-for-4, 2B, 2 runs) entered the game in the third to post the lone extra-base hit for the visitors, while Jason Swan (3-for-5, 2 RBIs) and Noah Ledford (2-for-4, 2 RBIs) each drove in two RBIs in the loss.
Out of the bullpen, Zach McCambley (5-2) picked up the win. The righty allowed two runs on two hits, a walk and struck out three batters over the final 2.2 innings of the contest.
Starter Anthony Veneziano left the game in the seventh with the lead, as he allowed five runs, four of which were earned, on seven hits, three walks and seven strikeouts in 6.1 innings on the mound.
The loss fell to GS reliever Cole Whitney (3-3), as he gave up one run on three walks and two strikeouts in 1.0 inning of work.
The Chant bats finally broke through in their first at-bat of the day, as Wood led off the inning with a double over the head of the left fielder and advanced to third on an error. Pearcey followed with a line drive to left center field to score Wood and then raced around to second for a double.
After Jake Wright moved Pearcey up to third on a ground ball to the right side of the infield, Rivers blasted a two-run home run to left field to put the Chants up 3-0 early.
Chavers continued the inning with a single to left, stole second and then advanced to third on a throwing error by the pitcher on a pick-off attempt to come around and score on an RBI ground out by Kyle Skeels to put Coastal in front 4-0 after just one inning of play.
The pitching responded in the next half inning, as Veneziano pitched around a single by striking out the side to keep the Chants in front 4-0 after two innings.
However, the Eagles got a run across in the top of the third on a hit-by-pitch, single and a sacrifice fly to cut the Coastal lead to three at 4-1.
While Eagles’ reliever Joe Nahas (4.0 IP, 4 hits, 2 R, 7 K) sent down nine-straight CCU hitters over the second, third and fourth innings, Veneziano was able to pitch around a lead-off single in the fourth and both a base hit and a walk in the fifth to strand three GS runners over the two innings and keep the Chants in front at 4-1.
The long ball returned for the Chants in the bottom of the sixth, as Rivers and Chavers hit back-to-back jacks, one to left and one to right, to put Coastal up five at 6-1.
The back-to-back home runs are the first by the Chants this season and the first since Seth Lancaster and Kevin Woodall Jr. hit back-to-back home runs last year versus Troy at the 2018 Sun Belt Championship (May 27, 2018).
Four batters later, after a pair of walks sandwiched a fly out, Koenig laced a ball down the left field line to score Skeels from second and push the CCU lead out to six at 7-1 with three innings to play.
The Eagles battled back into the contest in the top of the seventh, as the visitors had an RBI single, the help of a Coastal fielding error and a bases-loaded walk to score two runs and drive Veneziano from the game with the Chants leading 7-3.
GS then got a two-run single off the CCU bullpen to trim the Coastal lead to two at 7-5 heading into the seventh-inning stretch.
After a pick-off at second base ended the Chants scoring chances in the bottom of the seventh, the Eagles tied the game up in the top of the eighth on a sacrifice fly and a two-out RBI single to put the score at 7-7.
The relentless Chants refused to roll over, as Skeels led off the bottom half of the eighth with a walk and then moved up to second on a Zach Biermann single. Following a walk to Scott McKeon and a ground ball to the shortstop to get the lead runner out at home plate for out number one, Wood drew a bases-loaded walk to plate the go-ahead run from third.
Pearcey then hit the next pitch to right field for a sacrifice fly to put the Chants back up by two at 9-7.
McCambley returned to the mound in the ninth and sent the Eagles down in order to give the Chants the 9-7 home win.
The Chant pitching staff struck out 10 Georgia Southern batters compared to just four walks, while the CCU batters walked eight times in the win.
Game 2: Georgia Southern 13, Coastal Carolina 12
Coastal made a valiant comeback effort with five runs in the bottom of the ninth, yet fell just one run short in the 13-12 game two loss on Saturday night. The Chants surrendered six unearned runs on three errors in the loss.
The high-scoring and back-and-forth contest saw three lead changes and a total of seven runs scored in the final inning of play.
Wood (4-for-5, 2B, 3 runs, SB), Biermann (2-for-5, HR, 2B, 3 RBIs, run) and Skeels (2-for-4, 2 2B, RBI, 2 runs) all had multiple hits for the game, while Chavers (1-for-5, HR, 3 RBIs) matched Biermann with a team-high three RBIs. Rivers (1-for-4, SF, 2 RBIs) also had two runs batted in in the loss.
GS’s Mason McWhorter (4-for-5, HR, 2B, BB, 4 RBIs, 3 runs) and Ledford (3-for-5, 4 RBIs) each had four RBIs in the win.
The Eagles used seven pitchers in the nightcap with reliever Jacob Parker (1-0) picking up the win with three strikeouts in 2.0-scoreless innings, while David Johnson (1) earned the save by getting two outs in the bottom of the ninth.
The loss fell to left-handed pitcher Austin Kitchen (5-3) as the redshirt junior gave up eight runs, four of which were earned, on seven hits, one walk and five strikeouts in 5.1 innings on the mound.
Just like in game one, the Chants took an early lead in the bottom of the first on a Wood single, a stolen base and a Wright RBI triple off the wall in center field to put the home team up 1-0.
However, the Eagles took advantage of a Chants’ fielding error in the top of the second to score four unearned runs on back-to-back RBI singles and then a two-run single up the middle two batters later to push Georgia Southern out in front at 4-1.
Coastal quickly erased the Eagles’ advantage in the bottom half of the inning, as Skeels double down the left field line and then scored on a Biermann two-run shot to left center field to put the Chants down one at 4-3.
After a McKeon single, a Koenig sacrifice bunt and a Wood single to center, Pearcey lined a double off the left-center field wall to score McKeon from third and tie the game up at 4-4.
The Eagles would use a pair of solo home runs, one in the third from Swan and another one by McWhorter in the fourth, to pull back out in front of the Chants by two at 6-4 midway through the fourth.
Coastal continued the back-and-forth scoring in the bottom of the fifth, as Wood singled to lead off the inning, advanced to second on a base-on-balls to Pearcey and then moved up 90-feet along with Pearcey on a wild pitch. Following a hit-by-pitch to Wright to load the bases, Rivers lined an RBI single to left field to put the Chants down 6-5.
With the bases still loaded, a wild pitch allowed Pearcey to motor in from third base and tie the game up at 6-6. Two batters later, Skeels sent a towering fly ball to the fence in right field for a sacrifice fly to push Coastal in front by one at 7-6.
The lead did not last for long, however, as Georgia Southern used an RBI double and a two-run single in the top of the sixth to retake the lead at 9-7 before a 6-4-3 double-play squashed their chances of adding to the lead in the frame.
While the Chants going down in order in the sixth and stranding one run in both the seventh and eighth innings, the Eagles added two insurance runs in both the eighth and ninth innings to pull ahead by six at 13-7.
Rather than throw up the white flag, the home team put up a fight in the bottom of the ninth.
Wood led off the inning with a double to left field. After back-to-back walks to Pearcey and Wright, Rivers hits a sacrifice fly to right field to score Wood from third and put the Chants down five at 13-8.
With runners on first and second, Chavers launched a 2-2 pitch deep into the night for a three-run home run to left center field to put the Chants within two at 13-11.
Skeels then doubled to right center field to bring up the tying run to the plate with one out. Biermann lined a double to right to score Skeels and put the home team down just one with the tying run on second base.
GS was able to get a strikeout and a ground out to second base to strand the tying run on base and escape with the 13-12 Sun Belt road win.
Coastal (24-16-1, 9-8 Sun Belt) will return to the road for a four-game road swing beginning at nationally-ranked North Carolina on Tuesday night, April 23, at 6 p.m. ET in Chapel Hill, N.C.