Coastal Carolina Drops Series Opener at Liberty, 7-2

Coastal Carolina Drops Series Opener at Liberty, 7-2
CCU baseball (Source: WMBF)

LYNCHBURG, Va. – Coastal Carolina tied the game at 2-2 with a two-run fifth inning yet gave up three runs in the sixth and two more runs in the eighth to fall to the Liberty Flames 7-2 in the series opener on Friday night in Lynchburg, Va.

The Chants fall to 18-14 overall on the year, while Liberty improves to 26-9 overall and 15-1 at home on the season. The loss snaps CCU’s winning streak over the Flames at six straight.

Making his first career start on the mound as a Chant, Alaska Abney (1-1) was handed the loss despite a solid outing. The junior gave up five runs on six hits, one walk, two hit batters, and four strikeouts over 5.1 innings pitched, the second-longest outing of his career.

Liberty starter Trevor Delaite (6-1) picked up the win with a quality start, as the left-hander allowed just two runs on six hits, one walk, and six strikeouts over 6.0-complete innings.

The Coastal offense was led by one hit apiece from five different batters and two base knocks by the nine-hole hitter Dale Thomas (2-for-2, 2B, BB). Sophomores Eric Brown (1-for-4, RBI) and Cooper Weiss (1-for-4, RBI, run) each drove in a run, while both BT Riopelle (1-for-4, 2B, run) and Parker Chavers (1-for-4, 2B) each had a double in the loss.

For Liberty, four hitters had two hits apiece in Trey McDyre (2-for-3, 3B, HBP, 2 runs), Brady Gulakowski (2-for-3, BB, 2 RBIs, run), Jake Wilson (2-for-3, SF, RBI), and Cam Locklear (2-for-3, 2B, HBP, RBI) who hit fifth, sixth, seventh, and eighth in the lineup.

Liberty got on the scoreboard first to take a 2-0 lead in the bottom of the first inning, as Gulakowski lined a two-out single to right field to plate two Flames who reached base on a lead-off double and a hit-by-pitch to start the inning.

While the Chants’ offense stranded a runner in the top of the first and had another runner thrown out at second base on a stolen base attempt in the third frame, Abney settled own to pitch back-to-back 1-2-3 innings in the second and third innings and then got help from the defense and Chavers in the bottom of the fourth as the redshirt junior threw out a runner at home plate trying to score from second base on a single to center field to keep the score at 2-0 in favor of the Flames.

CCU broke through in the top of the fifth, as Riopelle led off the inning with a ground-rule double to right-center field. After Tanner Garrison moved Riopelle up to third base on a ground ball to the right side of the infield and a strikeout, Weiss lined a single back up the middle for a two-out RBI to cut the Liberty lead in half at 2-1.

The inning continued with a walk to Thomas and then another two-out base hit, this time a single through the left side of the infield by Brown to drive in Weiss from second and tie the game up at 2-2 midway through the fifth inning.

The Chants looked to take their first lead of the contest in the top of the sixth, as Chavers led off the inning with a double just inside the left-field line. However, a ground ball to short and back-to-back fly ball outs to right field left Chavers, the go-ahead run, at third to keep the score tied at 2-2.

However, it would be the Flames who would pull back out in front in the bottom half of the sixth, loading the bases on a walk, hit-by-pitch, and single to start the inning. A sacrifice fly by Wilson, a wild pitch, and a pop-up double that found the grass in right field scored three runs to put the home team back on top at 5-2 with three innings to play.

Coastal stranded two runners in scoring position in the seventh and went down in order in the both the eighth and ninth innings, while the Flames added two insurance runs in the bottom of the eighth inning on a triple, a throwing error, and a passed ball to put the final score at 7-2.

Both teams stranded six runners on base on the night, while the Flames drew three walks compared to the Chants picking up one base-on-balls.

Saturday’s game has been moved up to an 11 a.m. ET start time due to the forecast of inclement weather coming into the area.