Andrew Beckwith improved to 8-1 for the season – 8-0 in Sun Belt games – but it was a two-run home run by his battery mate, Kyle Skeels, that proved to be the difference as #24 Coastal Carolina defeated Appalachian State 4-2 Friday night at Springs Brooks Stadium.
With the win, Coastal improves to 36-18-1 overall, 21-7-1 in the Sun Belt, and, with a win in the regular-season finale Saturday, can secure the top seed to next week’s Sun Belt Championship. Prior to Saturday’s game (1 pm start), Coastal will honor seniors Alex Cunningham, Cole Schaefer and Beckwith as well as this year’s CCU baseball graduates.
Beckwith, playing in his final game at Springs Brooks Stadium, left to a standing ovation with a 3-0 lead after pitching 5.1 scoreless innings. He scattered six hits and walked just one while striking out six, his most since fanning the same number at Georgia State in early April. In his 101st career pitching appearance as a Chanticleer, Beckwith improved to 32-8, tying All-American Anthony Meo for fifth on the CCU all-time wins list.
Cory Wood, who scored twice, and Billy Cooke each had two hits for the Chants and Skeels had two RBI while Kevin Woodall Jr., and Wood Myers each drove in one.
In the bottom of the third, Wood lined a leadoff double to left-center field. Cooke followed with a bunt single to move Wood to third. Two batters later, Woodall came through with a single to score Wood for an early 1-0 lead.
Coastal pushed its lead to 3-0 in the fourth. Kieton Rivers started the home half with a sharp single to center. After a sacrifice bunt, Skeels hit a two-run home run over the right-center field wall. Skeels now has 12 hits for the season (53 at bats) with eight extra-base hits, including five home runs.
With bases loaded in the seventh, Wood scored on a Myers sacrifice fly. Wood reached on a leadoff walk and Cooke had his second bunt single of the game. After a sac bunt by Jordan Gore, the Mountaineers intentionally walked Woodall – his team-best fourth intentional walk of the season. Myers lifted a fly ball down the left field line that easily allowed Wood to score for the 4-0 lead.
Appalachian State did not go down without a fight. After a leadoff walk in the ninth, Jackson Avery (2-for-4) lined a two-run, home run that just stayed fair down the left field line to cut the deficit in half. Pinch hitter Conner Leaonard nearly made it a one-run game, but his long fly ball hooked foul. Austin Kitchen rallied to get a pop out and two fly outs to close the game.
The two-run home run snapped a streak of 28.2 consecutive scoreless innings in league play by the CCU staff going back to the seventh inning in game two at UTA last Saturday. Coastal shutout UTA, 5-0, on Sunday and won 4-0 versus App State on Thursday before going eight innings without a run against the Mountaineers on Friday.
Kitchen earned his sixth save of the season as he worked the final 3.2 innings. He allowed two hits and three walks.