Coastal Carolina scored eight runs in the sixth inning en route to a 12-0, seven-inning victory over South Alabama Sunday, but it was the pitching of senior Zack Hopeck that secured the series win.
Per Sun Belt Conference rules, the game was called after the Jaguars batted in the top of the seven since Coastal led by at least 10 runs.
The 18th-ranked Chanticleers improve to 23-11 overall and become the first Sun Belt team with 10 conference wins this season -- now 10-2. Coastal has won all four conference series this season with two sweeps; has won eight straight conference series with five sweeps dating back to last season; and is 11-2-1 in its 14 Sun Belt series in its second season in the league. South Alabama falls to 17-13, 7-4.
Hopeck (3-3) gets credit for both his first career shutout and complete game as he only allowed three hits and one walk with seven strikeouts, two shy of his career best. The outing was much need as Coastal pitchers had allowed 22 walks in the first two games of the series.
Offensively, Coastal only needed 10 hits to score its 12 runs thanks to six walks, two hits batters and four balks -- two in the sixth inning that forced home runs for the Chants. Zach Biermann had three of CCU's 10 hits, going 3-for-4 with three runs scored, while Parker Chavers added two, both in the decisive sixth frame. Kevin Woodall Jr., and Cameron Pearceyeach drove in a pair of runners.
Coastal jumped out to a 3-0 lead in the bottom of the first. Biermann hit a leadoff single and Kyle Skeels doubled. Keaton Weisz came through with a hustle double to score Biermann. Pearcey followed with an RBI single to centerfield to plate Skeels. Cory Wood then drove in Weisz with an RBI ground out.
The Chants increased their advantage to 4-0 in the fourth as Skeels delivered a sacrifice fly to score Woodall.
In the sixth inning, Coastal loaded the bases with no outs to start the home half and eventually sent 14 men to the plate while scoring eight times to lead 12-0. Biermann doubled, Skeels was hit by a pitch and Chavers reached on a bunt single. Biermann scored on a balk and Weisz walked a few pitches later to once again load the bases. Pearcey was hit by a pitch to force home pinch runner Turner Buis. (Buis has been a pinch runner eight times this season and scored five of those times.) Wood walked for the second time in the game to force home Chavers. Seth Lancaster also walked to force home Weisz. Woodall then lined a two-run double past the Jaguars' third baseman. Two batters later, pinch hitter Matt Beaird singled to right field to score Woodall. Chavers came through with his second hit of the inning, this time scoring Biermann to provide the eventual final score.
Travis Swaggerty, Dylan Hardy and Hunter Stokes accounted for South Alabama's three hits. Andy Arguelles (1-1) was saddled with the loss as he allowed four hits and three runs in two innings.
Coastal Carolina, which had a five game road swing end with the South Alabama series, will hit the road for another five games, starting Tuesday at Wake Forest. First pitch in Winston-Salem, N.C., is set for 6 pm. The Chanticleers will then travel to Troy for three games (April 13-15) and go to UNC Wilmington (April 18) for a game.