Chants hold off Mavericks to claim key series opener

ccubase-33pitchBilly Cooke’s three-run home run in the fourth inning to give #29 Coastal Carolina a 5-0 lead proved to be the difference as the Chanticleers held of #24 UTA, 5-4, Friday night at Clay Gould Ballpark. Coastal improves to 32-17-1 overall, 17-7-1 Sun Belt while Sun Belt West Division leader UTA falls to 29-19, 19-6.

Alex Cunningham (6-2) escaped a bases-loaded jam in the bottom of the fourth before leaving the game in the seventh inning. Will Latcham pitched 2.2 innings scoreless innings, allowing two hits and striking out five, to close the game and earn his third save.

Jordan Gore, Josh Crump and Matt Beaird led the CCU offense, each with two hits. Gore was 2-for-4 with a double off the centerfield wall. Crump was 2-fo-3 and drove in CCU’s first two runs. Beiard was 2-for-3 as well.

Coastal took control early, scoring twice in the second. Kieton Rivers and Seth Lancaster each walked to start the frame. After moving up 90 feet on a Peyton Isaacson sacrifice bunt, Crump lined the first pitch he saw to center field to bring home both Rivers and Lancaster for the 2-0 lead.

Crump figured in CCU getting on the board again. With two outs, the junior walked and moved to second on a Beaird infield single. Cooke then cleared the bases with a three-run home run over the left-center field wall to give the Chants a 5-0 advantage. The blast was Cooke’s eighth of the season.

UTA threatened in the bottom of the fourth. Cunningham, who retired the first nine Maverick batters in order, walked the leadoff hitter in the fourth. After an out, Omar Salinas singled and Will Olson walked to load the bases. Cunningham responded by inducing a pop out and struck out Noah Vaughan looking to escape unscathed.

The Mavericks finally broke through with two runs in the sixth. Salinas has a one-out single and, after a fly out, Quintin Rohrbaugh hit a two-run home run to left field to cut the UTA deficit to three, 5-2.

Back-to-back, one-out doubles in the seventh by UTA’s Easton Johnson and RJ Williams made the score 5-3. Then with two outs, Salinas lined an RBI single just beyond the reach of Wood Myers to bring home Williams to make it a one-run game.

After allowing the inherited runner to score, Latcham worked a 1-2-3 eighth. In the ninth did allow a one-out hit, but struck out two and got a ground out to end the game.

Photo courtesy of CCU Athletics

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