Washington took a 6-1 lead, thanks in part to a grand slam, in the second inning, only to see Coastal Carolina claw its way back to trail by just one, 7-6, in the top of the sixth. However, the Huskies hit another home run in the bottom of the sixth to pull away for an 11-6 victory over the Chanticleers Saturday night in the winner’s bracket of the NCAA Conway Regional.
The game was played before a crowd of 3,205 – the fifth-largest at Springs Brooks Stadium.
Washington, the third seed in the Regional, improves to 32-23 overall, goes to 2-0 in the Conway Regional and will have to be beaten twice. They will return to action Sunday at 6 pm. Top seed Coastal Carolina (43-18) will face second seed Connecticut in an elimination game Sunday at Noon. UConn advanced to Sunday after defeating LUI Brooklyn, 10-3, Saturday afternoon.
Coastal Carolina, the designated visiting team Saturday, got on the scoreboard first. Zach Biermann drew a leadoff walk to start the second inning and moved to second on a Kieton Rivers sacrifice bunt. Lee Sponseller followed with a double to the left-center field wall for bring home Biermann.
The Huskies immediately answered in the bottom of the second, tallying a total of six runs. Levi Jordan hit a leadoff double and scored on an RBI single by AJ Graffanino. After a walk and hit batter loaded the bases, Mason Cerrillo delivered a sacrifice fly to the right-field corner, scoring Graffanino. Another hit batter re-loaded the bases to set the stage for a grand slam by Nick Kahle for a 6-1 lead.
Undaunted, the Chanticleers bounced back in the third. Seth Lancaster drew a one-out walk and Kevin Woodall Jr., singled. Biermann drive a single back up the middle, scoring Lancaster and moving Woodall to third. Rivers followed with a line drive off the pitcher, who was able to recover and throw out Rivers at firs. However, Woodall was able to score on the play to cut the CCU deficit in half, 6-3. Coastal was not done scoring as Sponseller hit his second RBI double in as many innings to plate Biermann to make the score 6-4.
Both teams had their chances over the next six outs, but came up empty. Then, with one out in the fourth, Washington manufactured a run as Braiden Ward had a bunt single, stole second and scored on a Kahle single. Kahle finished with five RBI.
The Chanticleers got that run back in the top of the fifth. Biermann had a leadoff single, moved to second on a wild pitch and scored on a two-out single to left field by Parker Chavers. Coastal chipped away again in the sixth, scoring one to make it a one-run game (7-6). Beaird hit a leadoff double off the centerfield wall, advanced to third on a Cory Wood sacrifice bunt and scored on a passed ball.
The Huskies pushed their lead back to three, 9-6, in the bottom of the sixth. After a one-out bunt single by Ward, Joe Wainhouse hit a two-run home run to become the seventh player in Springs Brooks Stadium history to clear the 20-foot batter’s eye in centerfield. It was his 16th home run of the season and second of the NCAA Conway Regional.
UConn used a pair of doubles to score two more runs in the seventh for an 11-6 cushion. Willie MacIver started the rallied with a one-out double to right-center. Two batters later, Jonathan Schhiffer hit an RBI double to left field. Cerrillo followed with an RBI single.
Jason Bilous (7-3) suffered the loss. He allowed seven hits and seven runs in 3.2 innings. Josh Burgmann (2-2) got the win in relief as he allowed four hits and two runs in 2.1 innings.
For Coastal, Woodall, Biermann, Sponseller and Chavers each had two hits.
-per Coastal Carolina Athletics