No. 26 Coastal Clinches Series at South Alabama With 11-9 Win
MOBILE, Ala. - Kieton Rivers had the big hit in the eighth, but Billy Cooke delivered all game to lead #26 Coastal Carolina to an 11-9 victory at South Alabama Friday night to clinch the series victory at Stanky Field.
The Chanticleers (22-11-1, 10-3-1) and Jaguars (20-15, 9-5) will conclude the series on Saturday at 1 pm (CT)/2 pm (ET).
The back-and-forth game saw South Alabama leading 8-7 after the Jaguars scored three runs in the bottom of the seventh. However, Rivers came through with a two-run triple and scored on a Cooke RBI single as part of a four-run eighth inning.
Cooke was 3-for-3 with three RBI and a run scored. He also made a highlight reel catch in the sixth inning. With bases loaded, the junior laid out for a diving catch in right-center field to save at least two runs. Rivers was 2-for-4 with two RBI, while Wood Myers and Peyton Isaacson each had two hits.
Andrew Beckwith (5-1) pitched six innings in relief to earn the win. He scattered eight hits for four runs (two earned) with three walks and five strikeouts. Austin Kitchen worked a 1-2-3 ninth inning for his third save of the season.
Coastal Carolina took advantage of a South Alabama error to take a 1-0 lead in the top of the first. Cooke hit a leadoff double, moved to third on a Myers sacrifice bunt and scored when Woodall reached on a throwing error.
South Alabama answered with a run of its own in the bottom of the first. Drew LaBounty hit a leadoff single, stole second, moved to third on a ground out and scored on a sacrifice fly by Travis Swaggerty.
The Chants got that run back plus one in the second. Seth Lancaster walked and moved to second on a Rivers single. Cory Wood (1-for-2 with two runs, two walks and RBI) reached on a fielder's choice, putting runners on the corners. After Wood stole second, Cooke singled to centerfield to bring home Lancaster and put Wood on third. Cooke then was intentionally caught in a rundown on a steal attempt, which was allowed Wood to score.
The Jaguars bounced back with four runs in the bottom of the second to take a 5-3 lead. With two outs, Will Luft doubled off the left field fence and scored on an RBI single by Carter Perkins. South Alabama then got a single from Hunter Stokes and LaBounty walked to load the bases. Brendan Donovan cleared the bases with three-run double down the right field line.
The pitchers settled in the next three innings. Then, in the sixth, Coastal's offense got back in the game, scoring four runs to regain the lead (7-5). Jordan Gore hit a leadoff single to his counterpoint at shortstop. Woodall launched the first pitch he saw to straight away centerfield, just to the right of the 400-foot sign. The two-run shot was his league-leading 14th home run of the season. Isaacson kept the rally going with a single and, after a Kyle Skeels sacrifice bunt, South Alabama walked Lancaster, Rivers and Wood, the last resulting in a run scored. For the third, Cooke figured in a CCU run as his sacrifice fly scored Lancaster.
South Alabama threatened in the bottom of the sixth but came up empty. First, with runners on second and third, Beckwith fielded a ground ball and threw out the Jaguars runner at the plate. Later, with bases loaded and two outs, Cooke saved at least two runs as he made an impressive diving catch in right-center field to end the inning.
However, South Alabama scored three in the seventh. Dylan Hardy had a one-out single and a CCU error put runners on first and second. Perkins found the hole in the right side of the infield to score Hardy. After a walk loaded the bases, LaBounty lined an RBI single through the left side of the infield to knot the game at 7-7. With bases still loaded, Donovan grounded out but still pushed across the leading run.
Coastal regained the lead, 11-8, with three runs in the top of the eighth. Isaacson hit a leadoff single and moved to second on a Matt Beaird bunt. Lancaster followed with a walk. Rivers then smacked a ball to deep right-center that fell just between the two USA outfielders for a two-run triple. After a walk to Wood, Cooke beat the drawn-in infield with a single to score Rivers. Gore fisted a ball to right field than plated Wood and give CCU a three-run cushion.
The Jags cut their deficit to one in the bottom of the eighth. With one out, Jared Barnes hit a solo home run to left field, his seventh round-tripper of the season to provide the 11-9 final score.