Zach Biermann drove in five while Seth Lancaster and Kevin Woodall hit back-to-back home runs – each hitting their 18th of the season – to lead top seed and 15th-ranked Coastal Carolina to a 16-4 victory over fourth-seed South Alabama Thursday night in the quarterfinal of the Sun Belt Tournament, held at Louisiana’s Russo Field.
Coastal’s Parker Chavers (4-for-5) added a grand slam in the top of the ninth, the Chanticleers’ sixth grand slam this season, to give the CCU the 12-run lead. Kieton Rivers added for RBI
The Chanticleers (40-17) have hit three home runs in both games and have scored 28 runs in the two games. CCU earns a bye Friday (May 25) into the semifinals and will return to action Saturday (May 26) at 9 am (CT)/ 10 am (ET). South Alabama (31-24) will face Georgia Southern in an elimination game Friday (May 25) at 3 pm (CT).
Coastal struck first, scoring three runs in the third inning. Lancaster drew a one-out walk and moved to third on a Woodall single. Biermann drove a ball to deep right-center to score both Lancaster and Woodall with his first career triple. Rivers followed with an RBI single to right-center field.
The Jaguars answered with two runs in the bottom of the third. Michael Sandle hit a leadoff double, Dylan Hardy walked and Brendan Donovan was hit by a pitch to load the bases with one out. Carter Perkins came through with a two run single back up the middle. The Jags would re-load the bases but Jason Bilous ended the threat with a strikeout and ground out.
The Chanticleers bounced back with three runs in the top of the fourth. Matt Beaird hit a leadoff double, Cory Wood walked and Woodall drew a one-out walk to load the bases. For the second time in as many innings, Biermann and Rivers came up big, First, Biermann singled past the diving USA first baseman to score Beaird. Rivers then drove a single back up the middle to plate both Wood and Woodall for a four-run lead, 6-2
However, South Alabama once again answered. After two quick outs, the Jaguars loaded the bases on a hit batter, walk and hit batter. After a pitching change, Carter Perkins hit a ground-rule double down the left field line to cut South Alabama’s deficit to two, 6-4.
For the third straight inning, Coastal put a three-spot on the board to take a 9-4 lead in the top of the fifth. With two outs, Wood doubled. Lancaster then got ahead 2-0 in the count, which lead to a visit to the pitcher’s mound by USA. On the nest pitch, Lancaster crushed the next pitch over the right field wall for his 18th home run. Lancaster took the team home run lead, but it was short lived as Woodall followed with a solo shot over the 375 sign in left-center field for his 18th home run of the season. It marked the first time Chanticleers hit back-to=back home runs since Woodall and Wood Myers accomplished the feat at Clemson last season (May 16, 2017).
In the seventh, Wood walked and Lancaster reached on a catcher’s interference. It marked the seventh time Lancaster has reached on catcher’s interference this season (a CCU single season record) and for the 10th time in his career (a CCU record). After a ground out moved the runners up 90 feet, Biermann hit a ground-rule double to bring home Wood and Lancaster for the 11-4 lead.
Coastal put the game away in the ninth, scoring five runs to provide the 16-4 final. Coastal loaded the bases on a Lancaster walk, Woodall single and Biermann walk. Rivers forced in Biermann with a walk of his own. Two batters later and with two outs, Chavers crushed the first pitch he saw over the right-center field wall for his first career grand slam.
Jason Bilous started but did not factor in the decision despite recording eight strikeouts in 3.2 innings. Matt Eardensohn (7-0) worked 4.1 scoreless innings, scattering three hits and two walks, with five strikeouts to get the win.