CONWAY, S.C. – The 22nd-ranked Coastal Carolina University baseball utilized an outstanding pitching effort in earning a 4-1 victory over No. 19 Kentucky in Game 6 of the Caravelle Resort Invitational at Watson Stadium/Vrooman Field, Feb. 21. With the victory, the Chanticleers moved to 2-0 on the year, while the Wildcats fell to 2-1.
Pitching was the focus of the contest, for both of the ranked teams. Starter Austin Fleet picked up his first win on the year after going six innings and scattering three hits, giving up just one earned run and striking out six to no walks. Matt Rein was perfect in his two innings of relief, striking out four, while junior Nick McCully picked up the save by striking out looking two of the three batters he faced in the ninth. Clint Tilford took the loss for UK, giving up just four hits and three runs, though only one was earned. Tyler Henry was solid in relief for the Wildcats, going 4.2 innings and giving up just two hits and one earned run while striking out eight.
The Chants got on the board first in the bottom of the second. Adam Rice walked to open the inning and moved to second on a wild pitch. Taylor Motter’s bunt single put runners on the corner and Motter moved over to second on Dan Bowman’s bunt attempt. Tyler Bortnick grounded to the third baseman but an errant throw put runners on the corner again and scored Rice for a 1-0 lead. Motter later scored on Rico Noel’s sacrifice fly to make it 2-0 Coastal Carolina.
Back-to-back singles by Bowman and Bortnick got things going again in the bottom of the fourth with one down. The pair moved up to second and third on a failed throwdown by the Kentucky catcher.Bowman then scored on Scott Woodward’s single to left to make the margin 3-0.
The Wildcats answered with their only run in the top of the fifth, as Marcus Nidiffer led off with a single. Spencer Korus’ one-out double put Kentucky runners on the corners and Nidiffer scored on Chris Bisson’s groundout. However, Fleet got Keenan Wiley to fly out to second to end the threat.
Coastal Carolina put its final mark on the board in the sixth, as Bortnick led off with a double down the left field line. Playing for the run, Woodward sacrificed Bortnick to third, where he would score on a wild pitch for a 4-1 lead. That would be the final margin, as the Chanticleer pitchers had to deal with just one Kentucky base runner the remainder of the contest after a two-out error in the eighth.
Bortnick finished the game 2-for-4 with one RBI and one run scored for Coastal Carolina, while Woodward was 1-for-2 with a walk and one RBI.
The two teams will match back up tomorrow, Feb. 22, at noon at Watson Stadium/Vrooman Field, with Coastal Carolina making it a doubleheader by playing James Madison at 3:30 p.m.