Coastal Carolina had the tying run on second base in the ninth inning, but had its rally come up short as Georgia Southern held on for a 5-4 victory in the series finale Saturday afternoon at J.I. Clements Stadium.
While Coastal won its third conference series of the season and its seventh straight dating back to last season, the loss snapped a 19-game win streak over two seasons in Sun Belt action by the 20th-ranked Chanticleers, which falls to 21-9 overall and 8-1 in the league. The Eagles improve to 13-14, 6-3.
Coastal was down 5-1 through seven innings, but got a solo home run from Kevin Woodall Jr., in the eighth inning and another by Kieton Rivers in the ninth to give CCU hope. After Rivers’ blast, Turner Buis doubled and later scored on a Seth Lancaster ground out to make it a one-run game. Cory Wood, who walked, moved to second on the Lancaster ground ball, but was left stranded as Eagle relief pitchers Braxton Jones and Hayden Harris recorded a pop out and strikeout, respectively, to end the game.
Buis was 3-for-4 while Rivers had two RBI to lead the Chanticleer offense.
After using the long ball in games one and two of the series, Coastal turned to the short game to get the first run of the game. Lee Sponseller walked to start the second inning. With one out, Parker Chavers came through with a single on a hit-and-run to move Sponseller to third. Rivers then executed a squeeze bunt as Sponseller beat he play at the plate, putting Rivers on first. Buis loaded the bases with an infield single, but Eagle pitcher Chase Cohen got a pair of outs to limit the damage.
The Eagles grabbed their first lead of the series in the bottom of the fifth. With two outs and a runner on first, Mitchell Golden hit an RBI triple to right field. On the next pitch, Mason McWhorter doubled to left field to bring home Golden for the 2-1 lead. After a walk, Coastal turned to the bullpen, but a hit batter loaded the bases. A walk to Christian Avant forced in the third run of the frame and pinch hitter Noah Searcy snuck a single through the left side to score two more for the 5-1 lead.
After Coastal scored its run in the second inning, Georgia Southern starter Chase Cohen, the normal Eagle closer making his first start of the season, retired 13 straight and 16 of 17 from the second inning through the seventh before exiting.
However, to start the eighth inning, Georgia Southern brought in new pitcher Cole Whitney and Woodall welcomed him with a solo home run, the senior’s 12th round-tripper of the year.
Cohen improved to 2-2 as he struck out eight with one walk in seven innings. Harris earned his first save. For Coastal, Zack Hopeck (2-3) suffered the loss as he allowed six hits and four runs in 4.2 innings.
Coastal will continue its five-game road swing on Tuesday (April 3) at nationally-ranked Clemson. First pitch is set for 6:30 pm at Doug Kingsmore Stadium. The Chants and Tigers met two weeks ago (Mar. 20) in Conway with Coastal taking a 9-5 win.