Top seed and NCAA Conway Regional host Coastal Carolina erased a one-run deficit to tie the game in the sixth inning, erased a three-run deficit to tie the game in the eighth and had the tying run on base in the ninth. However, Connecticut relief pitcher CJ Dandeneau managed to get a fly out and a strikeout to end the game and the Chanticleers’ season as the second seeded Huskies held on for a 6-5 win in an elimination game Sunday afternoon at Springs Brooks Stadium.
The 13th-ranked Chanticleers end the 2018 season with a 43-19 record, marking the 15th time in CCU head coach Gary Gilmore’s 23-year career at his alma mater that CCU has posted at least 40 wins. UConn, ranked 17th nationally, improves to 37-21-1 and will play #3 seed Washington in a region final Sunday night (6 pm).
In the ninth for Coastal, Cory Wood got a one-out single. Seth Lancaster nearly gave CCU a one-run lead as his fly ball to right field was caught at the wall. Dandeneau then struck out the final batter to improve to 2-1 on the season.
For the Huskies, all six of their runs came with two outs, including a solo home run in the seventh, a two-run home run in the seventh and the game-winning solo home run in the eighth.
UConn looked as to start the scoring in the first inning, but Coastal made to big plays in the field. First, Kieton Rivers threw out a runner at third base on a Zac Susi single. Then, Hopeck picked off Susi at first, Hopeck’s sixth of the year and 12th of his career to rank third on the CCU all-time list.
CCU designated hitter Zach Biermann rode that momentum in the top of the second, hitting a leadoff home run for a 1-0 lead. It marked the junior’s 13th round-tripper of the year. When all was said and done, Biermann accounted for four of CCU’s five runs as he was 3-for-4 with four RBI.
UConn grabbed a 2-0 lead in the fifth. With bases loaded and two outs, Isaac Feldstein lined a double in the right field corner to score Christian Fedko and Michael Woodworth, both whom had singled.
Coastal answered in the top of the sixth. Wood and Lancaster both singled. Then with two outs, Biermann found the hole in the left side of the infield to score Wood.
The Huskies regained the lead in the bottom of the seventh when Anthony Prato hit a two-out, solo home run to left-center field and, after a single by Zac Susi, Feldstein hit a two-run home run to give UConn a 5-2 lead.
Once again, Coastal answered and scored three runs in the top of the eighth to tie the game, 5-5. Matt Beaird drew a leadoff walk and, on a Wood ground ball, reached second on UConn error. With one out, Kevin Woodall Jr., walked to load the bases. Beirmann hit a 3-2 pitch through the right side of the infield to score pinch runner Michael Koenig and Wood. With two outs, Lee Sponseller drew a 3-2 walk to load the bases and, after working the count full, Parker Chavers walked to force home Woodall and tie the game.
However, with two outs in the bottom of the eighth, Fedko hit a solo home run to put the Huskies up 6-5, which proved to be the difference.
Zack Hopeck started for the Chants, but did not figure in the decision. He scattered six hits and three walks over 5.0 innings while allowing two runs. Jay Causey (2-2) was saddled with the loss.
-per Coastal Carolina Athletics