Chants fall to Sooners, face elimination vs. host Hokies

Coastal Carolina, seeded third and ranked 29th, jumped out to a 3-0 lead after two innings, but second seed and 19th-ranked Oklahoma rallied to score seven unanswered to take a 7-3 decision in the opening game of the NCAA Blacksburg Regional at Virginia Tech’s English Field Friday afternoon.

The Chanticleers (37-22) will face host Virginia Tech, a 5-2 loser to Connecticut, on Saturday at 1 p.m. The Sooners (41-19) will face the Huskies Saturday night.

Coastal took advantage of three hits and two Sooner errors to grad an early 2-0 lead in the top of the first. Ted Blackman started the game with an infield single and took second on a throwing error on a failed pickoff attempt.

Jacob May attempted a sacrifice bunt, but Oklahoma threw to third. While the throw was on time, the third baseman dropped the ball to put runners on first and second. Jake Kane followed with an RBI single, scoring Blackman and putting May on third. Colin Hering laid down a perfect bunt single, scoring May on the play for the 2-0 lead.

In the second, Chris Suseck reached on a one-out single and stole second. Two batters later, May ripped an RBI double to the right field wall to give the Chants a 3-0 lead.

The Sooners nearly tied the game in the third with a potential three-run double but an impressive catch kept the game at 3-0. With two outs, Craig Aikin walked, Jack Mayfield was hit by a pitch and Max White reached on an infield single. With a full count, cleanup hitter Matt Oberste lined a ball to left-center and Coastal’s Alex Buccilli made a nice backhand stab to end the threat.

However, Coastal would not be as lucky in the fourth, giving up two runs. Hector Lorenzana drew a leadoff walk and Anthony Hermelyn was hit by a pitch. Colt Bickerstaff followed with an RBI double down the right field line. Patrick Corbett (2-3) entered from the CCU bullpen to get a strikeout before Garrett Carey grounded out to score Hermelyn.

Oklahoma took a 4-3 lead in the fifth. Mayfield hit a leadoff single and White followed with a bunt single. A throwing error on the play moved the runners to third and second. Oberste plated the two with a two-run single to right field.

The Sooners loaded the bases with no outs and Coastal turned to Ryan Connolly, who promptly got a strikeout. However, White found a hole on the left side to drive in one for a 5-3 Oklahoma advantage. Connolly limited the damage with a strikeout and ground out to end the inning.

Oklahoma tacked on two runs in the eighth to provide the 7-3 final. Mayfield hit a two-out double and scored one batter later on White’s double. After a bunt single put runners on the corners, the Sooners executed a double steal with White scoring the game’s final run on the play.

Jonathan Gray (10-2) rebounded from the slow start to pitch seven scoreless to close the game in the complete-game victory. Gray, who is projected to the top pick in the upcoming Major League Baseball Draft, allowed nine this and three runs (two earned) with a walk and 11 strikeouts.

CCU starter Tyler Herb pitched three-plus innings, allowing three hits and two runs with two walks. Corbett suffered the loss in middle relief, allowing five hits and three runs (two earned) with a strikeout. Connolly worked the final three innings, allowing four hits and two unearned runs with two strikeouts.

Coastal was led offensively by Blackman, Hering and Suseck, each collecting two hits. Suseck was in the lineup at third base and Zach Remillard played shortstop as normal starter Nick Oberg left prior to the game for medical reasons. Also, CCU’s RBI leader and starting catcher Will Remillard, who played sparingly the last two weeks due to a back injury, did not play Friday.

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