On Coastal Carolina’s Senior Day, CCU senior Kevin Woodall accounted for four of his team’s six runs to lead the 19th-ranked Chanticleers to a 6-4 victory over Little Rock Saturday afternoon at Springs Brooks Stadium.
Woodall was 2-for-2 (double and home run) with two walks, three RBI and three runs scored. He hit a two-run home run in the first; walked and scored in the third; doubled and scored in the fifth; and drew a bases loaded walk to force in a run in the sixth.
With the win, CCU improves to 35-14 overall (20-6 in the Sun Belt), clinches the series win and needs just one more conference win to clinch the top seed as the Sun Belt regular-season champion. Little Rock, which entered the weekend as the West Division leader, drops to 26-22, 14-11.
Prior to the game, the athletics department honored its seven baseball seniors, all of whom have earned their degrees. The list included managers Kyle McCann and Mickey Beach along with Zack Hopeck, Lee Sponseller, Matt Beaird, Woodall and Seth Lancaster.
Hopeck (5-4) earned the win and he allowed five hits, three walks and two runs with six strikeouts over five innings. For the second time this week, Jay Causey picked up the save, earning his third of the season. He got a key double play to end the eighth and induced another in the ninth as he pitched 1.2 scoreless innings, allowing one hit and one walk before striking out the final batter of the game.
Little Rock strung together three singles in the first inning to grab an early 1-0 lead. Marcus Ragan hit he first pitch of the game through the left side of the infield for a single. Chase Coker followed with a single. After a ground out, Kale Emshoff singled to left-center field to plate Ragan. Zack Hopeck responded with a pair of strikeouts to end the first and limit the damage.
However, Coastal erased its deficit in the bottom of the first. Cory Wood, who was 2-for-3 with two walks) singled and scored two batters later on a home run by Woodall, his 17th of the season.
In the second, Wood also figured in the Chants scoring. After Michael Koenig singled, Wood delivered an RBI double to put CCU up 3-1.
Woodall and Sponseller teamed up to put the Chants up 4-1 in the third. Woodall drew a leadoff walk, stole second and scored on Sponseller’s RBI single through the right side of the infield.
Woodall scored his third run of the game as he hit a leadoff double in the fifth and came home on an RBI single by Kieton Rivers (2-for-4) for a 5-1 advantage.
The Trojans got a run back in the sixth as James Gann started the frame with a home run.
Coastal answered with a run in the bottom of the sixth to regain a four-run lead, 6-2. Michael Koenig walked, as did Cory Wood and Seth Lancaster. Then, for the third time this season, Woodall was walked with bases loaded, giving the senior his third RBI of the game.
Little Rock bounced back with another solo home run in the seventh as Ryan Benevidez hit a two-out, round-tripper to right field to make the score 6-3.
For the third inning in a row – and second time in as many at bats, Gann hit a solo home run, this time with one out, to make it a two-run game. With a runner on first, Causey entered and got a double play to end the inning.
Little Rock made it interesting in the ninth, putting runners on first and second to start the inning. However, Causey got his second double play, but the Trojan moved their leadoff runner to third on the play. With the tying run at the plate, Causey struck out the final batter to secure the win.
Coastal Carolina and Little Rock will wrap the Sun Belt series on Sunday with first pitch set for Noon. The game will mark CCU’s final home game of the season.