Coastal Advances to Title Game; Beats High Point 9-3
CONWAY - Coastal Carolina got another superb start from a career relief pitcher while freshmen Seth Lancaster and Josh Crump each had two RBI to lead the 27th-ranked Chanticleers to a 9-3 victory over High Point (29-26) Saturday afternoon in the Big South Tournament semifinals to advance to the program's 18th title game.
Second seed Coastal Carolina (38-18) will face top seed and #23 Radford in a winner-take-all championship game Saturday at 4 pm on ESPN3. Radford, the Big South regular season champion, advanced to the title game without a loss in the tournament. In 25 previous Big South Championships, Coastal has won a league-best 13 while finishing runner-up on four other occasions. Coastal last won a tournament title in 2012, which capped a run of six straight championships.
Sophomore Andrew Beckwith (5-4) made his first career start in what was his 55th career appearance. (Beckwith led the team with 29 appearances last season and has a team-best 26 this season.) The Blythewood product pitched a career-high 8.0 innings (previous long 6.1 innings) and scattered seven hits with two walks and three strikeouts. He did allow two runs, both in the second inning. The Panthers threatened to add more in the second, but a double play kept it a 2-0 game.
Prior to today, junior Brock Hunter got the win versus Winthrop in game two of the tournament by pitching a career-high 5.2 innings as he made his first career start in what was his 58th career appearance.
Connor Owings led CCU's 13-hit performance versus High Point. Coastal is batting .417 in the championship with 43 hits in three games with the next-best team batting .317. Casey Schroeder, Tyler Chadwick and Crump added two hits while Lancaster joined Crump with a pair of RBI. Michael Paez extended his hit streak to nine games while drawing a walk and getting hit by two pitches.
High Point took an early 2-0 lead in the top of the second inning. Cody Manzella hit a one-out double, Carson Jackson singled to center and Chris Clare delivered an RBI double down the right field line. While Hunter Lee then hit into a fly out double play, Jackson scored in between outs to credit Lee with a sacrifice fly.
Coastal answered with a run in the home half of the second. Schroeder hit a leadoff double, advanced to third on a Chadwick sacrifice bunt and scored on an RBI single from Crump.
The Chants exploded for four runs in the third to take a 5-2 lead. Paez was hit by a pitch and Owings singled. After Paez stole third, Zach Remillard executed a safety squeeze with Paez beating the throw to the plate. Owings moved to second on the bunt, stole third and scored on Schroeder's RBI single. Chadwick reached on a fielder's choice, moving Remillard to third. Lancaster followed with a two-run double to the left-center field gap to bring home both Remillard and Chadwick.
Coastal took advantage of a High Point error to score two runs in the fourth to take a 7-2 lead. Anthony Marks and Paez drew leadoff walks. Owings laid down bunt which turned into a single. However, a throwing error on the play allowed both Marks and Paez to score.
In the fifth, Chadwick doubled and scored on a Crump single. Marks then placed a double down the left field line to score Crump and give CCU a 9-2 advantage.
The Panthers provided the 9-3 final score thanks to a pair of doubles in the ninth. Carson Jackson hit a one-out double and Clare followed suit with an RBI double of his own.
Michael Hennessey (5-4) took the loss as he allowed five hits and three runs in two-plus innings of work.