No.24 Coastal Sweeps App State; Clinches #1 Seed to Sun Belt Tourney
CONWAY - For the third consecutive weekend, Coastal Carolina swept its league series, beating Appalachian State 6-2 in the teams' 2017 regular-season finale Saturday afternoon at Springs Brooks Stadium.
The Chanticleers (37-18-1, 22-7-1 Sun Belt) end the regular season by winning 12 of its final 14 games, win the Sun Belt East Division title and will be the #1 seed at next week's Sun Belt Championship, played in Statesboro, Ga., on the campus of Georgia Southern University. Coastal will the play the lowest seed remaining after Tuesday's play-in games when first round of double-elimination action begins on Wednesday. Game times to be announced.
Matt Beaird played a role in each of Coastal's first four runs and Josh Crump scored twice to cap a day of celebration at Springs Brooks Stadium. Prior to the game, Coastal Carolina honored its three 2017 baseball graduates (Cole Schaefer, Jordan Gore and Andrew Beckwith) as well as the three Chanticleer baseball seniors (Schaefer, Beckwith and Alex Cunningham).
Beaird hit a two-run home run and his sacrifice bunts in the third and fifth innings set-up CCU's first two runs. Crump scored both of the early runs after drawing leadoff walk in each inning.
The Mountaineers took their first lead of the series as Matt Vernon lined a solo home run down the left field line to give his team a 1-0 lead in the top of the third.
However, Coastal answered in the bottom of the third to tie the game 1-1. Crump drew a leadoff walk and moved to second on a Beaird sacrifice bunt. Billy Cooke (3-for-3) followed with by flaring a single to right-center and Crump made a good read on the ball, running all the way and scoring from second.
Coastal used a similar formula to take a 2-1 lead in the fifth inning. Crump once again drew a leadoff walk and once again Beaird followed with a sacrifice bunt. After Cooke's infield single moved Crump to third, Jordan Gore executed a squeeze bunt to drive in Crump.
Coastal put four runs on the scoreboard in the seventh to push its advantage to 6-1. Cory Wood stated the home half with a single. Beaird, who played an indirect role in CCU's first two runs, was directly responsible for runs three and four thanks to a two-run home run, his third round-tripper of the year. Wood Myers and Kieton Rivers added RBI singles, scoring pinch runner Peyton Isaacson and Kevin Woodall Jr., respectively.
App State used a second solo home run to left field, this time by Dylan Hamel, to cut its deficit to four, 6-2, in the top of the eighth.
Zack Hopeck won his third straight start to improve to 5-2 on the season. The junior allowed one run and four hits over five innings while walking none and striking out five. Will Latcham pitched the final four innings to earn his fourth save of the season. He allowed two hits and one run with no walks and four strikeouts.
Luke Watts (2-8) suffered the loss, allowing four hits and two runs in 4.2 innings. Hamel and Vernon each had two hits for the Mountaineers, as did Jason Curtis.