Chants make leap in polls; Paez shares weekly honor

ccubase-paezCoastal Carolina shortstop Michael Paez was named the Big South Choice Hotels co-Player of the Week, while the Chanticleers moved up in all of the national polls, climbing to as high as 18th in Baseball America.

Coastal Carolina, which was 3-1 last week with a road win at Wake Forest, jumped five spots to #18 in Baseball America’s poll. For the first time, CCU broke into the D1Baseball.com top 25 at #22 and entered the National Collegiate Baseball Writers Association poll at #24. The Chants moved up six spots and, for the first time since the final poll of 2010, entered the USA Today coaches poll top 25 at #25. Coastal moved up two spots to 28th in Collegiate Baseball. PerfectGame.com was the only poll to exclude Coastal, saying it came down to CCU and Iowa with the Hawkeyes getting the nod this week due to a higher RPI.

The Chanticleers will put their ranking on the line Tuesday with a trip to #18 North Carolina. The last time CCU traveled to Boshamer Stadium, it pulled out a 3-2 win versus the then #29 Tar Heels in 11 innings. Earlier this season, Coastal beat then #11 North Carolina, 13-2, in Conway on March 10. The previous day, March 9, Coastal defeated Toledo and has won 14 of its last 16 since. Including the previous win over North Carolina this season, Coastal is 5-0 versus teams from the Atlantic Coast Conference thanks to additional wins versus Georgia Tech, North Carolina State, Clemson and Wake Forest.

Paez, who was equally impressive on the defensive and offensive sides, shared the weekly honor with Campbell’s Cedric Mullens. This is the second time this season, and twice in an impressive 16-game span, Paez has been honored by the league.

Paez batted .571 (8-for-14) with eight runs, five RBI, three doubles, one home run (a grand slam and, three stolen bases last week. He also scored what proved to be the game-winning run in all three of CCU’s wins. He recorded multi-hit games and scored at least two runs in three of the four contests.

In a 10-4 win at Wake Forest on Tuesday, the sophomore was 2-for-4 with two runs, a double, a run batted in and a stolen base. He made a game-changing defensive play in the sixth inning to keep the contest tied at 4-4. Then in the top of the seventh he hit a leadoff double and scored on Casey Schroeder’s three-run home run.

In the Longwood opener, Paez was 1-for-3 with a run scored, stolen base and had a sacrifice bunt which helped CCU tie the game 1-1 in the first inning. In game two, he went 2-for-2 with three runs, a double, a grand slam and a stolen base in a victory against Longwood. In a losing effort in game three, Paez was 3-for-5 with a double and two runs scored.

This season, Pez opened the season by reaching base safely in each of his first 14 games. Then, after an 0-for-5 performance versus Michigan State to break the streak, Paez moved to the #2 hole in the lineup and has flourished ever since. He has reached base in each of his last 15 games, including a current nine-game hitting streak, to raise his batting average from .203 to .324. More specifically over the span, Paez is batting .469 (23-of-49) with 18 runs scored, 21 RBI, seven doubles, four home runs, seven walks, seven stolen bases and nine sacrifice bunts.

Nationally, Paez ranks ninth with 10 sacrifice bunts, 13th with 13 doubles, 47th with nine hit by pitches, 62nd with 30 runs scored, 97th with 28 RBI, 117th with five home runs and 120th with a .583 slugging percentage.

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