Chanticleers break out bats to rip Highlanders in opener

ccubase-32swingConnor Owings was 4-for-4 with a home run and Alex Cunningham was equally impressive on the mound to lead #20 Coastal Carolina to a 13-6 victory at Radford in the opening game of a weekend Big South series.

Game two of the series, set for Saturday, has been postponed and the teams will play a Sunday doubleheader starting at Noon.

CCU (21-10, 6-1) led 13-1 before Radford (8-22, 3-4) scratched across five runs (four unearned) in the bottom of the ninth to provide the final score.

Owings has now reached base safely in seven straight at bats going back to last Tuesday at #6 South Carolina. After getting out his first at bat at USC, he reeled off two singles and walked before getting hits in each of his four at bats Friday at Radford.

Cunningham won his fifth straight and improved to 5-1 while CCU is 6-0 the last six times the Duncan native has taken the mound for the Chants. Friday he pitched eight complete innings, tying a career high, while scattering six hits and walking none with five strikeouts. He allowed one unearned run.

In addition to Owings, Coastal got a home run from Michael Paez, who was 3-for-4 with three RBI. Anthony Marks, G.K. Young, Billy Cooke and Tyler Chadwick each added two hits while Seth Lancaster was 1-for-3 with two walks, three runs scored and two RBI.

After a scoreless first, Coastal took a 1-0 lead in the top of the second. Owings had a leadoff single and moved to second on a Cooke sacrifice bunt. Chadwick followed with an RBI double to right center field to score Owings.

Coastal used a similar formula in the fourth to get on the scoreboard again. Owings lined a leadoff single to right field. However, this time, Cooke drove in Owings with a double down the left field line, although Cooke was thrown out at third on the play trying to extend the double into a triple.

The Chants used a sacrifice bunt to put another run on the board in the fifth. Seth Lancaster drew a leadoff walk and moved to second on a sac bunt by Marks. Two batters later, Young lined an RBI single to center field to plate Lancaster for the 3-0 lead.

Coastal pushed it lead to 6-0 in the top of the seventh. With one out, Lancaster walked, his second of the day and just the 13 RU starter Zack Ridgely has allowed in 53 innings. Marks followed with a chopper through the right side of the infield. RU turned to relief pitcher Miller Trevvett, but Michael Paez took advantage of a slight wind change (previously blowing straight in from left field) and welcomed the right-hander with a three-run shot to left center field, over the 370 marker. Paez now has seven home runs this season.

The Highlanders took advantage of an error to score once in the bottom of the seventh to make the score 6-1. Trevor Riggs was hit by a pitch to start the home half. Jonathan Gonzalez reached on a fielder’s choice as Riggs was safe at second on a CCU error. Jordan Taylor put runners on first and third as he reached on fielder’s choice and Gonzalez was retired at second. Matt Roth put runners on first and second when he grounded back to Cunningham, who threw out Riggs at home. Colby Higgerson singled to score Jordan. Pinch hitter Adam Whitacre singled to center but Cooke threw a strike to the plate to end the inning.

The Chanticleers responded by sending 12 men to the plate and by scoring seven runs in the top of the eighth to lead 13-1. Owings started fireworks with a solo blast to right field for his fifth home run of the season. Lancaster hit a two-run single, Marks had an RBI single, Young delivered a two-run single and Zach Remillard capped the scoring with an RBI ground out.

Photo by Joel Beachum

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