Coastal Lead Slips Away, Falls 7-3 to Oklahoma in NCAA Blacksburg Regional
May 31, 2013
BLACKSBURG, Va. - Coastal Carolina, seeded third and ranked 29th, jumped out to a 3-0 lead after two innings, but second seed and 19th-ranked Oklahoma rallied to score seven unanswered to take a 7-3 decision in the opening game of the NCAA Blacksburg Regional at Virginia Tech's English Field Friday afternoon.
The Chanticleers (37-22) will face the loser of tonight's Virginia Tech-Connecticut game on Saturday at 1 pm while the Sooners (41-19) will face the winner of the Friday night game.
Coastal took advantage of three hits and two Sooner errors to grad an early 2-0 lead in the top of the first. Ted Blackman started the game with an infield single and took second on a throwing error on a failed pickoff attempt. Jacob May attempted a sacrifice bunt, but Oklahoma threw to third. While the throw was on time, the third baseman dropped the ball to put runners on first and second. Jake Kane followed with an RBI single, scoring Blackman and putting May on third. Colin Hering laid down a perfect bunt single, scoring May on the play for the 2-0 lead.
In the second, Chris Suseck reached on a one-out single and stole second. Two batters later, May ripped an RBI double to the right field wall to give the Chants a 3-0 lead.
The Sooners nearly tied the game in the third with a potential three-run double but an impressive catch kept the game at 3-0. With two outs, Craig Aikin walked, Jack Mayfield was hit by a pitch and Max White reached on an infield single. With a full count, cleanup hitter Matt Oberste lined a ball to left-center and Coastal's Alex Buccilli made a nice backhand stab to end the threat.
However, Coastal would not be as lucky in the fourth, giving up two runs. Hector Lorenzana drew a leadoff walk and Anthony Hermelyn was hit by a pitch. Colt Bickerstaff followed with an RBI double down the right field line. Patrick Corbett (2-3) entered from the CCU bullpen to get a strikeout before Garrett Carey grounded out to score Hermelyn.
Oklahoma took a 4-3 lead in the fifth. Mayfield hit a leadoff single and White followed with a bunt single. A throwing error on the play moved the runners to third and second. Oberste plated the two with a two-run single to right field.
The Sooners loaded the bases with no outs and Coastal turned to Ryan Connolly, who promptly got a strikeout. However, White found a hole on the left side to drive in one for a 5-3 Oklahoma advantage. Connolly limited the damage with a strikeout and ground out to end the inning.
Oklahoma tacked on two runs in the eighth to provide the 7-3 final. Mayfield hit a two-out double and scored one batter later on White's double. After a bunt single put runners on the corners, the Sooners executed a double steal with White scoring the game's final run on the play.
Jonathan Gray (10-2) rebounded from the slow start to pitch seven scoreless to close the game in the complete-game victory. Gray, who is projected to the top pick in the upcoming Major League Baseball Draft, allowed nine this and three runs (two earned) with a walk and 11 strikeouts.
CCU starter Tyler Herb pitched three-plus innings, allowing three hits and two runs with two walks. Corbett suffered the loss in middle relief, allowing five hits and three runs (two earned) with a strikeout. Connolly worked the final three innings, allowing four hits and two unearned runs with two strikeouts. Coastal was led offensively by Blackman, Hering and Suseck, each collecting two hits. Suseck was in the lineup at third base and Zach Remillard played shortstop as normal starter Nick Oberg left prior to the game for medical reasons. Also, CCU's RBI leader and starting catcher Will Remillard, who played sparingly the last two weeks due to a back injury, did not play Friday.
Coastal Carolina Quotes vs. Oklahoma
Coastal Carolina Head Coach Gary Gilmore:
"I thought we played really good for three innings and from that point on you have to tip your hat to Oklahoma. They put a lot of pressure on us when we weren't able to command the strike zone and they capitalized when they needed. (Jonathan) Gray seemed to get stronger as the game went on. We had opportunities I thought. We were down one with runners on first and second and we can't get a bunt down and move guys over and it kind of did us in."
On Jonathan Gray:
Most real good pitchers, one time through the order is going to change his sequence. We got a heavy dose of fastballs early and we saw breaking balls the second and third time through the order."
On his team:
"I was proud of our guys. I thought we did a good job in a lot of ways. We struggled throwing strikes at times and kind of shot ourselves with that part of the game."
On jumping on Jonathan Gray early:
"It was a good move. We tried to get a lot of momentum. Jumping on them early was good since he has such a dominant arm on the bump. Runs were going to be hard to come by so we tried to get them as early as possible and try to hold their offense."
On moving on to tomorrow's game:
"It's definitely important to flush losses. It's also important to reflect on the game and take the good and the bad and learn from it."
On Jonathan Gray:
"We had a game plan the first three innings and we stuck with it and we were just trying to see his fastball down and we did well with that. Later on in the game he just got stronger and stronger. When we can't capitalize on a bunt at the end of the game, I think that took a lot of momentum out of us."
On today's loss:
"It's a double elimination format so I think we have a good chance of anything. It's a tough loss. We played them hard. We can't give that team extra outs with a guy on the mound like that. We still believe in ourselves and we'll keep fighting."