CCU routs Little Rock, 15-1 to open up the Sun Belt Tournament

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MONTGOMERY, Ala. – Coastal Carolina scored at least one run each inning from the second inning on to run away from the Little Rock Trojans with a 15-1, seven-inning win, in the first game of the 2021 Sun Belt Conference Baseball Championship Tournament on Tuesday morning at the Riverwalk Stadium in Montgomery, Ala.

With the 15-run outburst, the Chanticleers have now scored double-digit runs in four of their last five games, all of which have been wins. The 15 runs are tied for the most by the Chants in a single game this season, matching the run total in a 15-5 win over Davidson on March 5.

The Chanticleers have now won five straight games, their second-longest winning streak of the season, with each of the last two games coming by way of the 10-run rule.

With the tournament win, the Chanticleers are now 10-2 all-time in Sun Belt Championship Tournament play since joining the league in 2017.

CCU hit .455 (10-for-22) with runners on base and .333 (5-for-15) with runners on scoring position for the game, while the Trojans hit just .100 (1-for-10) with runners on base and were 0-for-5 overall with runners in scoring position.

The offense was powered by a total team effort, as nine different players recorded a hit including two base hits apiece from Nick Lucky (2-for-4, 3B, BB, 2 RBIs, run), BT Riopelle (2-for-5, 2B, 2 runs), and Zack Beach (2-for-3, 3B, BB, run). Dale Thomas (1-for-2, HR, 2 SF, 4 RBIs, 2 runs) had a game-high four RBIs, while designated hitter Alex Gattinelli (1-for-3, HR, 2 BB, 2 runs) drove in three RBIs in the win.

LR had just one run on four hits in the seven-inning contest, as designated hitter John Michael Ross (1-for-3, RBI) drove in the lone run for the Trojans in the bottom of the seventh inning following a Tyler Williams (1-for-3, 2B) double.

Redshirt junior Shaddon Peavyhouse (3-2) earned the win, as the right-hander was nearly unhittable, allowing just two hits and striking out four over 4.0-complete innings.

Recording his first career save was freshman Matt Joyce (1), as the reliever allowed just one run, on two hits, one walk, and three strikeouts over the final 3.0 innings of the shortened contest.

The Chants handed the 2021 Sun Belt Pitcher of the Year Hayden Arnold (7-4) the loss, as he gave up five runs, three of which were earned, on three hits, two walks, two hit batters, and four strikeouts over 3.0-complete innings.

After both teams stranded a runner on base in the first frame, the Chanticleers jumped out to an early lead with a three-run second inning.

Sophomore Eric Brown led off the top of the second by getting hit by a pitch and then moved up to third base on a Thomas sacrifice bunt and throwing error on the play from the LR catcher.

Following the throwing miscue, freshman outfielder Billy Underwood made the Trojans pay with a double down the left-field line to plate both Brown and Thomas and put the visiting Chants on top 2-0.

The inning continued with a sacrifice bunt from Beach and then a safety squeeze bunt down the first field line by Cooper Weiss to drive in Underwood and extend the Chants’ lead to 3-0 midway through the second inning of play.

That same part of the CCU lineup would do damage again in the top half of the third inning, as Brown would get hit by a pitch for the second consecutive at-bat. However, instead of laying down a sacrifice bunt this time, Thomas decided to drive in the run himself and hit the ball 388-feet over the left-field wall for his fifth home run of the season and push the Chants’ lead to 5-0.

While Peavyhouse continued to cruise on the mound with a 6-4-3 inning-ending double play in the bottom half of the third inning, the Coastal offense continued to put runs up in the top of the fourth inning with the help of two Little Rock fielding errors and three hits.

Lucky got the rally going with a one-out single to left field. Back-to-back errors by the Trojans on a dropped fly ball to center field and a miss on a ball at shortstop let two runners score to push the lead to 7-0.

The inning continued with back-to-back singles from Riopelle and Brown, with the latter scoring Gattinelli from third for an RBI single, and a sacrifice fly off the bat of Thomas for his third RBI of the game to extend the Chants’ lead to 9-0 heading into the bottom of the fourth inning.

The hits and runs kept on coming for the Chants in the top of the fifth, as a Lucky triple to the left-center field gap scored both Beach, who tripled off the wall in left field to start the inning and Weiss who was hit by a pitch to push the Chants’ lead to double digits at 11-0 halfway through the contest.

Following a Makenzie Pate RBI single in the sixth, the Chants continued the offensive onslaught with a two-run home run from Gattinelli and another sacrifice fly off the bat of Thomas in the seventh to put the visitors on top 15-0.

The Trojans would get spoil the shutout attempt in the bottom half of the seventh on a Williams double and a Russ RBI ground out to first to put the final score at 15-1.

Coastal (27-23, 9-12 Sun Belt) will return to the field tomorrow to take on the No. 1 seed (East) South Alabama (29-20, 15-9 Sun Belt) at noon ET. With a win, the Chanticleers will advance to the semifinals of the 2021 Sun Belt Baseball Championship Tournament on Saturday, May 29.

Courtesy – Coastal Carolina Athletics

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