Coastal drops Season Opener to No. 16 Duke

Sports

(Photo Courtesy: Candace Martino)

CONWAY, S.C. – Taking the field for the first time in 346 days, No. 23 Coastal Carolina dropped a 12-4 decision to the No. 16 nationally-ranked Duke Blue Devils in the two teams season opener on Saturday afternoon at Springs Brooks Stadium in front of a limited capacity crowd.

The loss drops Coastal to 1-2 all-time versus the Blue Devils on the diamond.

Coastal falls to 32-14 overall in season openers since 1974, 19-3 in season openers since 2000, and 35-10 in home openers. The loss is the first home-opening loss for the Chants in Springs Brooks Stadium (6-1).

Offensively, the Chants mustered just four runs on three hits led by junior Nick Lucky going 2-for-3 with a home run and two runs scored. The other hit was an RBI single by sophomore shortstop Eric Brown (1-for-3, RBI), while redshirt junior Parker Chavers (0-for-1, SF) added an RBI with a sacrifice fly.

For Duke, the Blue Devils plated 12 runs on 14 hits with nine different players recording a hit in the win. Left-fielder Rj Schreck was 3-for-4 with a double, three RBIs, and a run scored, while both Chris Crabtree (1-for-5, HR, 2 RBIs) and Peter Matt (1-for-5, HR, 2 RBIs) each had a two-run home run in the win.

Making his first career appearance on the mound for the Chanticleers was redshirt sophomore Jacob Maton (0-1). The righty, who had not pitched in a game since his senior season of high school three years ago, allowed four runs, three of which were earned, on six hits, four walks, and four strikeouts over 3.2 innings of work.

Preseason All-American Cooper Stinson (1-0) picked up the win for the Blue Devils, as he gave up three runs, one of which was earned, on two hits, three walks, and three strikeouts over 5.0-complete innings.

After a 6-3 double-play ended the top half of the inning for the Blue Devils after back-to-back singles to start the game, the Chants took advantage of a bloop double down the left-field line by lead-off hitter Lucky and a throwing error by the Duke pitcher on a sacrifice bunt attempt to plate one unearned run on a double-play ball to take an early 1-0 lead after just one inning of play.

The Blue Devils quickly pulled in front for the first time in the contest in the top of the second inning as Crabtree hit a two-run shot with a little help from the wind over the 20-foot batter’s eye in straight-away center field to put the visitors in front 2-1.

Duke increased its lead to 4-1 with a two-run top of the fourth inning, plating a run on a Michael Rothenberg RBI single and a CCU fielding error, as Stinson held the Chants hitless over the second, third, and fourth innings.

However, with the help of a hit-by-pitch, another fielding error by Stinson on the mound, and a sacrifice bunt from Lucky, Brown laced a ball to right-center field to plate Fox Leum and put the Chants down 4-2.

Chavers followed with a sacrifice fly to center field to score Makenzie Pate to cut the Duke lead to one at 4-3 through five innings of play.

Miscues would continue to play a factor in the contest, as the Blue Devils took advantage of a lead-off double, that just scooted under the glove of a diving Chavers in center field, and a wild pitch to score a run on a ground out up the middle to push their lead to two at 5-3.

A throwing error to first base on a ground ball to second was followed two batters later by a two-run home run to left-center field from Matt to extend the Blue Devils’ lead out to four at 7-3 heading into the bottom half of the sixth inning.

Lucky scored for the second time of the game in the bottom half of the seventh, as he launched a solo shot to left field for his second career home run to put the score at 7-4 in favor of the Blue Devils.

Duke tacked on five more runs over the final two innings to hold off the Chanticleers for the 12-4 win.

The Chanticleers stranded six men on base, however, Duke doubled that total with 12 left on base for the contest.

Making their CCU debuts along with Maton was junior college transfers Tyler Johnson (0-for-4) and Lorenzo Morello (0-for-1).

Also making their Coastal debuts on Saturday afternoon on the mound was freshman Luke Barrow (0.1 IP, 1 hit, 1 K), redshirt junior Noah Eaker (1.1 IP, 2 hits, 2 runs, 1 BB, 1 K), freshman Teddy Sharkey (0.2 IP, 2 K), and freshman Keaton Hopwood (1.0 IP, 3 hits, 3 runs, 1 BB).

Combined with Maton and senior Josh Jarman (2.0 IP, 2 hits, 3 R, 1 ER, 2 K), the Coastal pitching staff struck out 10 Duke hitters.

The Chants (0-1) and Blue Devils (1-0) will play a doubleheader tomorrow starting at noon ET.

Courtesy: Coastal Carolina Athletics

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