Kieton Rivers hit a two-run double and a three-run home run, while Seth Lancaster hit his 20th home run of the season, to lead top seed and 13th-ranked Coastal Carolina to a 16-6 opening-round win over #4 seed LIU Brooklyn in the NCAA Conway Regional. The game was played before a crowd of 3,736 – the third-largest in the four-year history of Springs Brooks Stadium.
Coastal (43-17) will face #3 seed Washington (defeated #2 seed Connecticut, 7-1, earlier Friday) in the winner’s bracket on Saturday with first pitch set for 5 pm. UConn and LIU Brooklyn (31-25) will play in an elimination game Saturday at Noon.
In addition to Rivers and Lancaster, Coastal got a three-run home run from reserve Kyle Skeels, who had missed the last 17 game with a hand injury. Cory Wood added two hits, two RBI and two runs scored.
As well as the CCU offense was, Coastal got just as strong of a pitching performance from starter Anthony Veneziano. The sophomore pitched seven scoreless innings, scattering three hits and three walks, with six strikeouts. Veneziano improves to 7-1 on the season, including a7-0 mark as a starting pitcher. Also, Coastal is now 11-1 in games Veneziano starts thanks to the CCU offense averaging 10.9 runs per in the 12 games he has started.
Coastal Carolina got the scoring going in the third inning as it turned two walks and two sacrifice bunts into two runs. Lee Sponseller and Parker Chavers each walked. Keaton Weisz laid down a sac bunt, but a throwing error on the play allowed Sponseller to score and moved Chavers to third. Matt Beaird followed with a sac bunt of his own to bring home Chavers.
The Chants exploded for five runs in the fourth inning with all runs coming after LIU recorded two quick outs to start the home half. Beaird hit a two-out single, moved to second on a wild pitch and scored on an RBI single to right-center by Wood. Lancaster followed by depositing a 3-2 pitch onto the City of Conway Boardwalk in right-center field, marking his 20th long ball of the season. He is the fourth Chanticleer to hit at least 20 home runs in a season (David Anderson accomplished the feat twice; 2008 and 2009). After walks to Kevin Woodall Jr., and Zach Biermann, Kieton Rivers lined a 3-2 pitch off the left field wall for a two-run double.
Coastal padded its lead with five more runs in the fifth to go up 12-0. Beaird drew a one-out walk and scored on a hit-and-run, RBI double by Wood. Then with two outs, Woodall, who walked three times Friday night, walked and Zach Biermann followed with a single. Rivers cleared the bases with his fifth home run of the season, giving him a career-high five RBI for the game after the three-run shot.
In the bottom of the seventh, Coastal added another four runs for a 16-0 lead. Turner Buis had a pinch-hit double. For the season and in 12 pinch hit appearances, Buis is now 6-11 with a walk. Cameron Pearcey followed with a bloop single to put runners on the corners. Chavers chopped a double over the first baseman’s head to drive in Buis and move Pearcey to third. With two out, Skeels hits his three-run shot for the 16-0 lead.
Skeels had his first plate appearance since going 1-for-2 with an RBI on April 22 versus Georgia State. He missed the next 17 games with a left hand injury. Skeels had his cast removed Tuesday (May 29) but he did not miss a beat in his first back in the lineup as he launched the third pitch he saw out of the confines of Springs Brooks Stadium. This season, Skeels now has 28 hits – 12 extra base hits (7 doubles and 5 home runs) – with 22 runs scored. For his career, Skeels has 40 hits – 20 for extra basses (10 doubles and 10 home runs) – with 42 RBI.
The Blackbirds got on the scoreboard in the eighth thanks to a CCU error. After a one-out walk and a CCU error, Brock Hallum lined a double to right field to score Alex Briggs from second to provide the 16-1 final.
Patrick Clyne (5-5) took the loss for LIU Brooklyn. He allowed four hits, five walks and six runs (five earned) in 3.2 innings.