WILMINGTON, N.C. – For only the third time this season, the Chanticleers scored five runs or more in a loss, as UNCW scored a combined five runs over the sixth, seventh, and eighth innings to steal a 7-6 win over Coastal Carolina on Wednesday night at Brooks Field in Wilmington, N.C.
The Chants are now 17-3 on the year when scoring five runs or more for the game, as the visitors posted a five-run fifth frame on Wednesday night.
For the first time all season, the Chanticleers have now lost three consecutive games and fall to 19-17 overall on the season. With the midweek sweep of the Chants, UNCW improves to 21-15 on the year.
Seven different Chants combined for nine hits on the night for Coastal led by lead-off hitter Dale Thomas (2-for-4, 2 2B, BB, 2 runs) posting another multi-hit game. Outfielder Makenzie Pate (2-for-4) had two base hits while both BT Riopelle (1-for-5, 2B, 2 RBIs, run) and Eric Brown (1-for-3, BB, SAC, 2 RBIs, run) drove in two runs apiece.
The Seahawks topped the Chants with 10 base hits from eight guys, as Zachary Bridges (2-for-3, 2B, 3 RBIs) had a team-high three RBIs, while Noah Bridges (2-for-3, BB, 2 runs, 2 SB) scored a team-high two runs.
Reliever Keaton Hopwood (4-3) was credited with the unfortunate loss, as the freshman allowed one run on no hits, one walk, four strikeouts, and three wild pitches over 1.2 innings out of the bullpen.
UNCW reliever Ethan Chenault (2-1) stole the win with 2.0-scoreless innings, allowing just one hit and one walk while facing seven batters.
After being held to just one run on three hits last night at home versus UNCW, the Chants did not take long to score on Wednesday night as the visitors took a 1-0 lead three batters into the game on an RBI single to left field by Brown.
The Seahawks used small-ball to tie the game up in the bottom of the first, as two singles and a sacrifice bunt set up a safety squeeze by Cole Weiss to tie the score at 1-1.
UNCW would again use small-ball in the bottom of the second inning to take its first lead of the game, as an infield hit, stolen base, and a sacrifice bunt put the go-ahead run on third for Zachary Bridges who lined a double down the left-field line to give the home team a 2-1 advantage.
While starter Connor Kurki (4.0 IP, 5 hits, 2 ER, 1 BB, 2 K) pitched around a single in the third and a walk in the fourth, stranding the runner on base and each frame, Coastal threatened in both the third and fourth innings before breaking the game wide open in the top of the fifth with a five-run inning.
Thomas kick-started the rally with a one-out walk and then quickly advanced to third on a single to center field from Nick Lucky. With runners on the corners, it was the Chants’ turn for a safety squeeze play, as Brown put the bunt down and Thomas raced home from third to beat the tag at the plate and tie the game up at 2-2.
Riopelle ripped the next pitch from the new UNCW pitcher to the gap in right-center field to clear the bases with a two-run double and push the visitors back in front at 4-2.
Following a strikeout, Zack Beach kept the inning alive with a single up the middle to drive in Riopelle and add to the Chants’ lead at 5-2.
The big-inning would continue with a passed ball, which allowed Beach to move up to second base, and a double down the right-field line off the bat of Tanner Garrison to plate Beach and put the Chants on top at 6-2.
Following a bizarre play in the top of the sixth in which Thomas appeared to be hit by a pitch only to have the umpires ruled the ball hit the bat which allowed UNCW to turn a double play, the Seahawks strung together four hits in the bottom of the frame to score three runs on a Zachary Bridges two-run single and one more on another safety squeeze sacrifice bunt to cut the Chants’ lead to one at 6-5 with three innings to play.
The Chants would see another bizarre play go against them in the bottom half of the seventh. With two outs and runners on second and third, Hopwood picked up a strikeout on a ball in the dirt. However, on the wild pitch, the runner from third was able to score on the play to tie the game up at 6-6 as the loose ball got stuck in the catcher’s chest protector.
UNCW would score what would prove to be the game-winning run in the bottom of the eighth without a base hit, as a wild pitch on a swinging strike three allowed the lead-off hitter to reach base safely.
After a sacrifice bunt, an intentional walk, and another wild pitch, a sacrifice fly to deep center field by Ron Evans scored Jac Croom from third to put UNCW one at 7-6.
CCU put the tying run on base in the ninth, yet saw a 1-5-3 ground ball and a comebacker to the pitcher end the inning and game with UNCW on top 7-6.
Both teams played a clean game with no errors and stranded eight runners on base.