Coastal’s bats finally come to life in doubleheader sweep

Aaron Burke pitched a career-long 3.2 innings in relief and Rich Witten hit a three-run double to help Coastal Carolina defeat UNC Wilmington, 8-6, Wednesday evening at Watson Stadium/Vrooman Field.

The game was the back end of a mixed doubleheader for the Chants (6-4).

Prior to the game, Coastal Carolina defeated Toledo, 10-4, in a game added due to both teams having games cancelled due to rain this past weekend.

Burke (3-0) entered the game in the fourth inning with CCU clinging to a 4-3 lead. The junior would not allow a hit, run or walk while striking out four over his 3.2 innings. Earlier this season, Burke had pitched three scoreless innings versus Pittsburgh.

UNCW (3-9) took an early 1-0 lead. With two outs, Andrew Cain lined a double to left field. He would move to third on a wild pitch and score on an RBI single by Hunter Ridge.

The Chants answered by sending nine men to the plate and scoring four runs in the home half of the first. Ted Blackman had a leadoff single and moved to second on a sacrifice bunt.  After Witten walked, Daniel Bowman, who was 2-for-3 in the game, came through with an RBI single, while Tucker Frawley hit an RBI double. Alex Buccilli plated Bowman with an RBI ground out and Frawley scored on Sloan Gilliam’s RBI single to center field. A walk to Chris Suseck would bring on a pitching change for the Seahawks. Jack Lane came out of the UNCW bullpen to get a pop out and end the inning.

The Seahawks cut into their deficit, scoring twice in the third to make the score 4-3. Cain started things with a leadoff single, moved to second on a Thomas Pope single and advanced to third on a ground out. Drew Farber lined a two-run single to right field to make it a one-run game.

In the fourth, Coastal padded its advantage by once again sending nine men to the plate and scoring four runs. Gilliam got his second hit of the night – a leadoff single, moved to second on a sacrifice bunt, advanced to third on a wild pitch and scored on a passes ball. Coastal would load the bases thanks to a Tripp Martin walk, Blackman being hit by a pitch and Creel drawing a walk. Witten brought the trio home with a three-run double down the left field line to put the Chants up 8-3.

UNC Wilmington made the score 8-4 in the eighth. Pope had a leadoff single and moved to second on the play due to an error in left field. After a wild pitch moved Pope to third, pinch hitter Sean Buchanan had an RBI ground out.

The Seahawks made some noise in the ninth. Tyler Molinero produced a one-out single and Cain homered to left to make the score 8-6. The winning run would come to the plate after Ridge was hit by a pitch and Pope reached on a bunt single. However, Ryan Connolly induced a pair of groundouts to secure the win.

UNCW used seven pitchers in the loss with starter Thomas Jones (0-2) getting the decision. He allowed four hits, four runs and two walks over 0.2 innings. Cain and Pope each had three hits for the Seahawks, while Farber added two.

The offensive explosion over the two games saw several CCU batting averages jump significantly. Witten, who was 4-of-6 in the two games, saw his average jump from .222 to .303. Bowman, who was 4-of-8 on the day, saw his average jump from .240 t0 .303. Martin, who was 4-of-6, had his average go from .250 to .429. Creel, who was batting an impressive .429 prior to the two games, was 3-of-6 in the mixed doubleheader and his average moved to .450.

Coastal Carolina will return to action this weekend, hosting the Chanticleer Classic.

Photo courtesy of CCU Athletics

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