Chants open new season, stadium with shutout win

ccu-alex cunningham vs odu (2)After playing off campus for the past two years, the Coastal Carolina baseball program christened its new facility – Springs Brooks Stadium – with a 4-0 victory over Old Dominion (0-1) before a crowd of 1,736, the largest CCU turnout for an on-campus, regular-season baseball game.

The game was the season opener for both teams. Prior to the game, head coach Gary Gilmore, who is in his 20th season at CCU and 26th as a head coach, threw out the ceremonial first pitch and kissed home plate as today fulfilled a long-time dream of having this state-of-the-art facility.

The Coastal-ODU game was not actually the first game to be played in Springs Brooks Stadium. Earlier in the day, Maryland defeated Western Kentucky, 7-3, in game one of the seventh annual Caravelle Resort Tournament. The event will feature three games Saturday at Springs Brooks Stadium, including Canisius-Maryland at 11 am, Western Kentucky-Coastal Carolina at 2:30 pm and Maryland-Ole Dominion at 5 pm.

The Chanticleers (1-0) did all their damage in the third inning thanks to two-run home runs by both sophomore shortstop Michael Paez and junir catcher Casey Schroeder.

Freshman Dalton Ewing started the home half of the third inning with a bunt single. Two batters later, Paez, who just missed a home run in his first at bat, hit the Chanticleers’ round-tripper in their new home with a two-run blast over the left field wall. Anthony Marks followed with a triple down the left field line.  With two outs, Schroeder drilled a two-run home run down the right field line.

Chanticleer starter Alex Cunningham (1-0) was impressive in earning the win. He was making his first appearance on the mound after a year-and-half absence due to an injury to his throwing arm. The sophomore had not pitched since getting a win versus Liberty on April 8, 2013 when he pitched 5.0 scoreless innings and allowed one hit with four K’s in a 12-1 win.

In today’s season opener, Cunningham, who walked three and struck out four, went 4.2 innings without allowing a hit. Then, with two outs in the fifth, Cunningham allowed his second hit and gave way to senior Austin Kerr. Kerr allowed a double to the first batter he faced but stranded both runners with an inning-ending ground out.

Kerr worked 3.0 scoreless innings and scattered six hits with a walk and a strikeout. However, Kerr left the game with two outs and the bases loaded in the top. Mike Morrison struck out the only batter he faced to earn his first save of the season and second for his career.

Josh Eldridge and Jason McMurray each had two hits for the Monarchs, who out-hit the Chants 8-6. Starter Greg Tomchick (0-1) suffered the loss, allowing four runs off four hits in 3.0 innings.

Photo courtesy of CCU Athletics

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