Chants go down swinging, await word on at-large bid

ccubase-blackbatTop-seeded Coastal Carolina battled back from two four-run deficits (once to cut it to one run and once to cut it to two) and brought the winning run to the plate in the bottom of the ninth, but fell short, 7-5, to eighth-seed Texas State in the quarterfinal of the 2017 Sun Belt Championship.

The defending national champion Chanticleers are eliminated from the rain-shortened, single-elimination event and will have to hope for an at-large bid to an NCAA Regional, which will be announced Monday at Noon (ET) on ESPN2.

The game got off to an auspicious beginning as Texas State threatened in the first inning, loading the bases thanks to two errors, but Coastal escaped thanks to a double play.

However, the Bobcats did get on the scoreboard in the second. Luke Sherley drew a leadoff walk and moved to third on a double by Ryan Newman. Two batters later Jacob Almendarez reached on an infield single, scoring Sherley. Then with two outs, Jonathan Ortega lined a two-run double to left-center field for a 3-0 lead. Coastal looked to limit that damage, but an error on what should have been the third out allowed Ortega to score and put the Bobcats up 4-0.

Coastal answered in the bottom of the second. Wood Myers (2-for-5) had a leadoff single and Cory Wood walked with two outs. Josh Crump followed Wood’s walk with a two-run double to left-center field to make the score 4-2. The Chants trimmed their deficit to one, 4-3, with a tally in the third. Jordan Gore (2-for-4) doubled and scored on a Myers single that ricocheted off the Texas State pitcher’s leg into right field.

The Bobcats pushed their lead back to three runs, scoring twice in the top of the fourth to lead 6-3. Almendarez, Derek Scheible and Ortega had consecutive singles to start the frame. Coastal turned a double play but Almendarez was able to score on the play. Back-to-back hit batters re-loaded the bases and Sherley walked to force home a run.

Texas State regained a four-run lead in the fifth. Scheible singled and scored on a double down the left field line by Ortega.

Coastal got back in the game in the bottom of the sixth. Kieton Rivers hit a leadoff single and Seth Lancaster followed by launching a two-run home run over the 25-foot, “Blue Monster” wall in right field to make the score 7-5. Lancaster hit his sixth home run of the season and becomes just the second player to clear the big wall since being installed this season.

In the ninth inning and with two outs, Gore singled and the Bobcats walked Sun Belt home run and RBI leader Kevin Woodall Jr. Myers drove a ball to center, but it held up enough for Scheible to catch the final out.

Andrew Beckwith (8-2) suffered the loss. Alex Cunningham pitched the final 5.1 innings and kept Coastal within striking distance as he only allowed one run.

Photo courtesy of Sun Belt Conference

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